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Shabbat in Akko

Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

We were privileged to spend Shabbat with graduates of "Avner", the pre-military school in Akko. We took an enjoyable tour around the walls of the city and heard about Akko's glorious history that included numerous wars and conquests, as well as visits from the Ramchal (Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto), the Or HaChayim (Rabbi Chaim Ben Attar), Rabbi Nachman of Breslav and many, many other renowned figures. We saw the prison in which members of the Jewish underground were incarcerated by the British before they were hung. We heard about the complex reality today in wake of the riots that took place last May, and we learned of the city's encouraging young people, couples, and families to come there to live. We visited the city's large Sephardic synagogue that once was full but today struggles for a minyan. On Motzei Shabbat, Yedidya and I delivered a lecture in Akko's beautiful new cultural center.

In the course of Shabbat, Rabbi Achikam Getz, head of the Avner School, spoke with the graduates about the special connection between parashat Yitro, that includes the Ten Commandments, and parashat Mishpatim, that enumerates 53 mitzvot on a wide variety of subjects:

"Everyone has values," he stated. "The Ten Commandments are values. The question is whether or not you actually live by these values and, therefore, immediately after Mount Sinai we received detailed instructions for daily living. The Ten Commandments were not meant to stay up in heaven but rather to be brought down to earth where they would find expression in little everyday acts.

Ultimately, this is the essential test in the life of every human being: It's not about my beliefs. Beliefs are not enough. It's about the extent that I live by those beliefs every day of my life.

I hope this principle will accompany you throughout your lives, in every mission that you undertake. A Jew cannot be an extra, but must take the leading role in acting out the values in which he believes".


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