Lech L’cha - The Journey/transitions and immigration today

On October 28 we read from Parashat Lech-Lecha. The next day at TLC, during musick with Emily, we sang Debbie Friedman’s rendition of Lech-Lecha, called L’chi Lach. This has always been one of my favorite Debbie Friedman melodies. It holds so much significance as this was a moment that defined who we became as a people, when God instructed Abram and his family to leave his land, his birthplace, his father’s house and travel to Canaan - the land of our people.


The beginning journey of Lech-Lecha takes place prior to Abram and Sarai receiving their new names of Abraham and Sarah, and prior to Abraham’s circumcision. It is also before Ishmael and Isaac are born. I have always been amazed by Abraham’s trust and leadership as he becomes the founder of B’nai Israel, The Children of Israel.


Debbie Friedman’s L’chi Lach: (meaning - “you shall go”)


L'chi lach, to a land that I will show you.

Leich l'cha, to a place you do not know

L'chi lach, on your journey I will bless you.

And (you shall be a blessing) (3x) l'chi lach.

L'chi lach. and I shall make your name great.

Leich l'cha, and all shall praise your name.

L'chi lach, to the place that I will show you.

(L'sim-chat cha-yim) (3x) l'chi lach

And (you shall be a blessing) (3x) 1'chi lach.


We enjoyed singing the song, and I followed up by making a point to our students that it was a “big deal” for Abram to get up and take his family, flock, and household and uproot himself to settle in a new land.


A bright eyed student then asked a few questions:

  1. Did he need immigration papers?

  2. Did he have citizenship in one country and now need to apply for another?


Clearly these questions came from current events and issues in our country concerning immigration. As a Jewish educator I had a “wow” moment. Perhaps our student knew the answer that back in Biblical days there weren’t such things, but in any case, excellent questions! It gave us a chance to reflect the meaning of immigration today, people’s journeys and where life often takes us. We didn’t have an opportunity to delve deeply into the topic, but I was proud of our student who put a modern context on a parasha and related it to challenges in our world today.


In other news our students are busy getting settled into learning in their classes. We welcome a new Tuesday Hebrew teacher, Dalia Gal Shimon who is teaching the Jerusalem (2nd-4th) & Tel Aviv/Yafo (7th) grade classes. We wish Jan Barkley the best of luck as she was unable to continue teaching due to her new full time position at the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh.


Our students have been especially enjoying their “chug”/special choice activity hour each Sunday. Our cooking chug with Steve Weiss has already made two different kugels and split pea soup. They are busy planning a special Shabbat dinner where they cook various parts of the meal and join together for a special Shabbat meal.


Our art chug with Arielle Herzberg made paper mache sukkot decorations, felt projects, spice jars for Havdalah and Agam “style” three dimensional painted art. Film chug with Alex Speck have been watching, studying and discussing Jewish and Israeli films and videos. They are also watching Jewish music videos. Additionally, they are writing an outline script of their own “Jewish movie.” Everyone is enjoying these special opportunities.


If you would like more information about Torah Lishmah Community, I would love to hear from you. I can be reached at ksmorris92@gmail.com

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