Dear Friend,

In my wonderfully multi-cultural Jerusalem neighborhood, there are more than 100 synagogues, each founded by Jewish immigrants from different parts of the world, each with their own unique customs. In the century-old Iraqi shul downstairs from my home, shouts of Chazak ubaruch (“Be strong and blessed!”) can be heard every Monday, Thursday and Shabbat at the conclusion of each person’s aliyah to the Torah.

In Ashkenazic synagogues, the custom is for the congregation to say chazak only five times a year, at the conclusion of each of the Five Books of Moses. These congregations will stand this Shabbat at the conclusion of Parshat Vayechi and the completion of the Book of Genesis, and call out Chazak, chazak, v’nitchazek (“Be strong, be strong, we will be strong!”).

This week, Yehudah Shurpin shows in The Great “Shabbos” vs. “Shabbat” Debate how the differences in custom and pronunciation between different communities has proven throughout the centuries to be a source of strength and mutual respect among the Jewish people. And strength it is we need.

We need the strength to confront anti-Semitism and assimilation around the world. We need the strength to overcome our own personal struggles. This week, Tzvi Freeman asks the question: Who Will Fix the World? The answer is: All of us, standing together as one.

And for that we need the strength and guidance of Torah. Chazak!

Yaakov Ort
on behalf of the Editorial Team