Almost 300 people gathered at The Hebrew Academy of Cleveland’s Beatrice Stone Yavne High School in Beachwood to hear internationally renowned author, lecturer and historian Rabbi Berel Wein Jan. 15. The following morning he visited Hebrew Academy in Cleveland Heights and addressed its students.
At first a practicing lawyer, Wein became a pulpit rabbi in Miami and New York before making aliyah to Israel, where he is spiritual leader of Bet Knesset HaNasi and founder and director of the Destiny Foundation.
Wein’s message was about daring to dream and building a better, stronger Jewish world. He shared that Theodor Herzl and Sigmund Freud lived on the same street in Vienna. “If they would have met,” Wein quipped. “Herzl would have said ‘I have a dream’ and Freud would have said ‘lie down on the couch!’ We have to dream and have a sense of vision, a sense of greatness and a sense of purpose.”
Wein recalled that when he was a youngster in Chicago, the first Holocaust survivors limped into the city, creating anguish among his devastated family when they heard eyewitness reports of family members who perished. Still, the revival of Torah and of the community since then has been astounding. In 1900, there were 6,000 Jews in Israel. In 1920, there were 60,000 Jews there. In 1948, 600,000 Jews resided there and today, 6 million have made Israel their home. Since the days of the Talmud, never has there been such numbers. “So, we have options. Either we are People of the Book and we don’t know which Book, or we can dedicate our lives to build a Jewish future,” Wein said.
Wein concluded by quoting the Prophet: There will come a time that there will be hunger. Not a hunger for bread or thirst for water, but rather a thirst to hear the word of God. Jews are searching to define themselves. We may not always be faithful enough to the Torah, but that does not detract from the opportunity to study, grow and build a stronger future. “Great things are yet ahead of us.”