The moon is celebrating an anniversary.
We are fascinated by the moon. It is referenced in song lyrics and featured in works of art called moonscapes. We look for the face of the man in the moon, perhaps recalling the opening visual of The Honeymooners. The distance from the earth to the moon is often used to define the depth of our love with the statement, “Love you to the moon and back.”
The moon will celebrate a 50th anniversary this year, recalling July 20, 1969, when the Apollo 11 spacecraft landed on the moon. I remember watching the landing live on television, the words of Neil Armstrong (“One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind’’) and the reaction of the newscasters and the NASA engineers and scientists at mission control. This gives the event its place in history for me and many others. It was not to be the only news event of the summer of ‘69. I did not get to Woodstock, but I really love the music and the significance of what brought people together for that gathering.
Israel’s recent mission to the moon connected every Jew to Israel’s attempt to land the Beresheet robotic spacecraft this past April. Funded by private investors, it evoked the positive feelings we share about Israel and the challenge of space. Watching live coverage, this time online, the sign attached to the spacecraft defines the nation of Israel for many Jews: “Small Country, Big Dreams.” The landing turned into a crash, but this setback has not stopped the plans to try again. The investors are prepared to put in more money to make the next landing a successful one.
The moon is a celestial body that waxes and wanes. It appears each night, providing light in the darkness. It plays a role in Judaism as the regulator of the Jewish calendar. Each month begins with the appearance of the new moon and ends when the next moon appears.
There is a prayer to bless the new month called Kiddush Levanah. It is expected to be one that is fulfilled as early as possible when the new moon is visible at the end of Shabbat. The prayer is said under the night sky and provides the opportunity to acknowledge one of G-d’s creations. It also recognizes the importance of the community, as it is said with a minyan, and as the prayer ends, the participants greet the others they are with by saying Shalom Aleichem, wishing them peace.
Anniversaries of historic events are internalized as we remember our own experience when the subject is called to mind or what we may have heard about from a parent or someone from another generation. That is how history is taught as we share information about an event in history that is remembered. That memory is usually followed by where they were when they heard the news. This brings us closer together with the people we know, as well as with new connections as we share something about our own life experience.
Memories of experiences within B’nai B’rith help us keep and grow our collective memory. As B’nai B’rith continues to observe its 175th anniversary year, we hope to capture the memories that members and supporters have about their own experiences in B’nai B’rith. Please consider sharing your thoughts about memorable B’nai B’rith milestones, people or other influences on your B’nai B’rith experience with us. We will share them on the BB and I Blog page on the B’nai B’rith website, which brings these memories together for our B’nai B’rith community. You can even write them under a moonlit sky for additional inspiration.
Rhonda Love is the Vice President of Programming for B'nai B'rith International. She is Director of the Center of Community Action and Center of Jewish Identity. She served as the Program Director of the former District One of B'nai B'rith. In 2002 she received recognition by B'nai B'rith with the Julius Bisno Professional Excellence Award. Rhonda has served on the B'nai B'rith International staff for 41 years. To view some of her additional content, click here.
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