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Points of View
Establish the Work of our Hand
My Point of View, March, 2013
© Rabbi Jack Moline

There is a row of bricks on the outside of wall of the Cohen Sanctuary (near the intersection with the Flax Family Chapel) that I laid. When the synagogue was being renovated, I came out one morning to ask if I could put my hand to the actual building of the structure. A very patient mason showed me what to do, tapped my bricks a little to line them up and (I suspect) breathed a sigh of relief when I left.

Fifteen years later, trembling a little, I held a goose feather quill in my hand and dipped it into hand-made ink. Under the watchful eye of a scribe, I filled in a letter in our Torah scroll.

No one other than I notices either piece of handiwork as being the result of my effort, but the building stands and the Torah inspires and I know that the work of my hands has been established, as Psalm 90 asks of God.

I have one more opportunity coming up to be a part of the permanent physical legacy of Agudas Achim. I don't need money, and even with my bad back I can pitch in. I would like to invite you to join me.

During the week of May 20, the new playground that our congregants of all ages helped to design will be built on the site of the facility that served us well for more than twenty years. The build-out will require the willing efforts of as many people as we can muster to set the supports, fasten the beams, attach the apparatus and make the whole thing work. The result will be a set of structures that will serve our children from toddlers to teens, reflect the commitment to Israel that is an integrated part of our Judaism and enhance the Schiff Family Terrace (which will be preserved with appropriate space and landscaping). The project is part of the legacy of Eliot Stein, our late long-time member and friend.

Can you give us a day? Will you put your hand to this effort and make a gift to the next generation of Agudas Achim? Do you want to look out the window of the Cohen Sanctuary or the Lainof Auditorium and say, "I did that," beholding an upright, a bolt, a slide or a phalange?

Please say "yes." Your pride in the whole will only be elevated by your sense of contribution and accomplishment. And while you may be as tool-challenged as I am, the fact is that our experts will guide you as I was guided in masonry and the scribal arts.

Bob Meyers and Beth Robbins are the general coordinators of our build, and Rachel Goldberg is the volunteer coordinator. Right now, I just ask you to look at your calendar and plan to take a day (maybe even a vacation day from work) to schlep, hammer, steady . . . and kvell. Then, contact Rachel at or by phone at 703-473-9131. All ages and skill capabilities are needed.

When Psalm 90 was written, everyone had work of their hands to behold: crops, carts, fabric, shoes. What a wonderful way to remind ourselves that the eternal words of the Psalmist are not just metaphorical. We can bring them to life for that other handiwork we have produced: our beautiful kids.

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