The People of Judah

Posted on May 31, 2022

by Hazzan Barbara Barnett

This week’s Torah portion, B’midbar (in the wilderness), begins with a census of all the Israelite tribes. Of all the tribes, we are known by the tribe of Judah (Yehuda). We are, all of us collectively, Yehudim.

The foundation of Hebrew learning is to find the “shoresh” or root of the word, which will then provide insight into meaning. So. Where does Yehudah and Yehudim lead us as we follow it into its shoresh?

The word is derived from the Hebrew shoresh י.ד.ה.  , which builds out into a whole dictionary of words having much to do with thanksgiving—gratitude. Words we find all through our liturgy: L’hodot (to thank), Modeh (as in Modeh ani—I give thanks), Modim anachnu lach (We thank You, in the Amidah), and a lexicon of gratitude all through Hallel, Aleinu, etc.

Yehudim, Jews–those who live in gratitude to G-d, to each other. We wake up in the morning and the first thing we do is to offer thanks for being alive in Modeh Ani, and then for all the less obvious blessings we might not always consider as we do Birchot haShachar.

So that brings me my own opportunity to offer a word of gratitude, of thanksgiving for the opportunities; the friendships, the partnerships of so many; and the blessings of having been part of NSS Beth El’s clergy team for the past three years.

I am overwhelmed with gratitude from the outpouring of good wishes and kind words you have bestowed on me these past few weeks as we make our move to Pittsburgh to be closer to family. The hugs (virtual and in person), elbow and fist bumps, the hundreds of notes will stay with me (and Phil) long after we are settled in our new home. NSS Beth El is the most welcoming of communities: warm, embracing, caring, compassionate.

So many of you have told me I will be missed, but I assure you, the feeling is mutual, and should you pass through or have the opportunity to visit Pittsburgh, please stop by and visit.

Feel free to friend me on Facebook or reach out to me via email (the office has my current email and contact information!).

In the meantime, I’ll say L’hitra’ot and not “goodbye.”

Chodesh Tov and (an early) Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach!