Autumn might be my favorite season: the leaves are turning, the temperature is dropping and it’s that magical period now between the end of the High Holy Day Season and Thanksgiving. Before we know it, we’ll be lighting the candles of Chanukah.

That said, there are two recent, difficult events for our Northern Nevada Jewish community we need to address. Firstly, many of us have friends and loved ones who have been affected by the wildfires in Northern California. The devastation has been staggering. Please know that our beloved URJ Camp Newman (located in Santa Rosa, CA) was very much affected. The new cabins all over camp were burned to the ground. If you can find it in your heart to help them rebuild, that would be wonderful.

Most alarmingly, there have also been findings of anti-Semitic graffiti on the UNR campus recently in the form of swastikas painted on the walls of the UNR art galleries. This fascist hate speech implicitly threatens violence against Jews, gays and others. It is deeply disturbing. As Jews, one of our central values is education, and in the face of bigotry and ignorance, all the more so. Thus, we are in process of supporting Hillel and professors on campus to host an educational forum on anti-Semitism.

This week’s Torah portion in Parshat Noach, in which God promises “never again” to destroy the world by flood. In recent weeks and months, we have seen a surge of floods from hurricanes, fires in the west, as well as a surge in hate speech throughout our land. We remember that even if God will never destroy the world again, it is on us to ensure that we humans will pass a world on to our children that is better than the one we found. As a synagogue community, that is the center of our mission as well.

Please see the appeals below from URJ Camp Newman and Jewish Nevada. If you have not yet done so, please consider supporting our new state-wide Jewish Federation, “Jewish Nevada.” Both of these institutions strengthen our ability to fulfill our people’s mission of tikun olam. (And we’re applying for grants to Jewish Nevada, so it looks great to have Temple Sinai members’ support!) Jewish Nevada is very active in Las Vegas, where they continue to help victims of the domestic terrorism event there as well. Strong Jewish institutions are an important check on the various destructive floods of our time.

With prayers for healing and shalom,
Rabbi Bair