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 It seems that building campaigns are built into the DNA of the Jewish people from time immemorial. Beginning with this week's Torah reading and continuing for the next number of weeks we will be informed of the contributions of the Jewish people to the construction of the Mishkan/Tabernacle and to the exquisite details regarding the construction of that building and of its holy artifacts.

Throughout Jewish history a central building of prayer, worship and devotion has always been at the center of Jewish society and thought. Both the first and second Temples were the center of Jewish life during their centuries of existence. And throughout the long exile of the Jewish people, after the destruction of the Second Temple, the longing to restore the temple and have it built once again has never wavered.
Yet, it must be admitted and recognized that most of Jewish history, over the past millennia, has taken place without such a Temple and its physical representations present in the actuality of Jewish living. The Jewish people substituted synagogues and houses of worship large and small, study of Torah and community organizations for the lack of the central building of the Temple in Jerusalem.
We created miniature sanctuaries that carried us through very dark times and enormous challenges. This remarkable accomplishment of substitution for what seemed to be the central base of Judaism and the Jewish people is a prime example of the resiliency of the Jewish people and of the benevolent hand of God, so to speak, to help guide and preserve us against all odds.
The landscape of the world will reveal that in almost every corner of the globe there were or still are active synagogues built by the Jewish people. Their styles of architecture certainly differ as do the materials from which they were or are built. Nevertheless, they are all bound together in facing Jerusalem and preserving the holy traditions of prayer and services to God and humans. All attempts to change the form and nature of these synagogues were only temporary and fleeting.
The rhythm of centuries and of the mysterious but omnipresent ethos of holiness that these synagogues still contain, have remained the rock of the civilization of Judaism and the Jewish people. All of these buildings were built by love and sacrifice, vision and hope, sweat and tears. The commandment that appears in this week's Torah reading to “make for Me a dedicated sanctuary” was not limited to the generation of Moshe and those who wandered in the wilderness of the desert of Sinai.
That call has echoed throughout Jewish history in every time and place where Jews settled or even visited. From the grandeur of the synagogues of  Amsterdam to the small huts of the Ukraine and Lithuania, even to the basements of homes in the suburbs of the major cities of the United States, Jews have always constructed and dedicated their houses of worship and made them centerpieces of their personal and communal life. This is one of the many miraculous events that mark the Jewish story throughout history.
Shabbat shalom
Rabbi Berel Wein

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