September 5, 2019 // 6 Elul 5779

Dear Haverim,

Now that it's September/Elul, we're hitting high gear in our preparations for the High Holidays: our music team will soon be starting rehearsals, our High Holiday committee is currently organizing a myriad administrative details, our family program organizer Aviva Stein is working on our first High Holiday children's program and assistant clergy Jay Stanton and I are diligently going over our new service content. (Phew!)

Actually, the fact that our High Holiday prep has gotten more robust every year is only an indication of the exciting ways Tzedek Chicago has grown and evolved in over the past four years. I'm very grateful for the efforts of so many in our community who devote so much of their heart and soul to the ongoing life of our congregation. Speaking for our leaders and staff, we're genuinely looking forward to celebrating another new year with our Tzedek community. 

I'm also excited to announce this High Holiday program note: our featured speaker/performer for our Yom Kippur afternoon program will be Israeli activist/musician Yonatan Shapira. Yonatan is a former helicopter pilot in the Israeli Air Force who came to prominence in 2003 when he spearheaded a letter from 27 Air Force colleagues who publicly stated their refusal to take part in air attacks on Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank. Since that time, he has become a prominent activist in the "BDS from Within" and Gaza solidarity movements.

I first met Yonatan almost ten years ago through our mutual friend (now Tzedek member) Susan Klonsky and I wrote about our lunch conversation on my blog the very next day. As you can tell from this excerpt, Yonatan clearly left a deep impression on me:

Now that is the new definition of bravery: a high ranking Israeli Air Force veteran who comes from a military family (his father was a fighter pilot during the Six Day War) has now firmly put himself on the front lines of a global non-violence campaign initiated by the very people he himself had once been trained to attack.

Yonatan is also a well-known singer/songwriter who has performed around the world and has recently released an album of original material. Yonatan is truly an original - a unique and special figure in the Palestinian solidarity movement. We're honored to present his words and music to you this Yom Kippur afternoon. 

Looking forward to seeing many of you at our Shabbat dinner tonight. All the best for a happy month of Elul!

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Brant Rosen