Caught in the Middle?

Alexis Pinsky
January 2, 2014
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Each day in our liturgy, we remember that God took us out of Mitzrayim. While Mitzrayim is the name given to Egypt, there is a belief that the word is derived from m’tzarim meaning from narrowness or from tightness. When we pray, we remember how good freedom from restriction and constriction is. In this month’s edition of Sh’ma, Israel was referred to as a bridge between East and West; between China and America. To be a bridge is sometimes to be constricted between two different sides. While bridges provide opportunities to connect otherwise separated entities, it can be daunting to be the one in the middle.

When we hear about conflict, we often get advice “not to get in the middle of it.” Tension however, can often be relieved when an outside mediator steps in. While China and America might be competing for positions as global powers, it is amazing to look at the value that both place on the small state of Israel; the narrow country acting as a bridge between two powers. America and Israel are connected through their shared democratic values and a rich history of cooperation. Whereas China and Israel may seem to be polar opposites, they each have rich ancient cultures and value innovation and industry.

The words Kol ha’olam kulo gesher tzar m’od (all the world is a very narrow bridge) remind us that to be alive is to be caught in the middle. Even when feeling constricted though, we must remember that out of our tough positions can come redemption and greatness. When we find ourselves feeling like bridges, stuck in positions of uncertainty, may we remember that we have the power to reach out, broaden ourselves, and connect to others.

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Alexis Pinsky is a fourth year student in the rabbinical program at the Hebrew Union College Jewish Institute of Religion. Alexis was born in and grew up in Atlanta, GA. She attended college at Tulane University in New Orleans, LA where she double majored in Jewish Studies and Psychology. Alexis graduated from Tulane in three years cum laude with a BS. This year, she is serving as the rabbinic intern at Congregation Emanu-El of the City of New York. In her third year of school, Alexis served as the Student Rabbi at Beth Sholom Temple in Fredericksburg, VA. She has held positions on the board of New Orleans Hillel, and has led services with Hillels of Westchester, New Orleans Hillel, as well as her home congregation of Temple Sinai of Atlanta, GA. Alexis has a passion for Jewish Education and has taught religious school, Hebrew, Torah study, and various adult education programs at Stephen Wise Free Synagogue in Manhattan, Touro Synagogue in New Orleans, and at Beth Sholom Temple. She has a great love of Israel, where she has lived, led trips, and traveled extensively. During her time at Tulane, she served as the Grinspoon Israel Advocacy Intern, and spearheaded Israel education and programming on campus. Alexis is thrilled to be a part of the Sh'ma community this year.

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