Rabbi Chaim Richman of the Temple Institute in Jerusalem spoke in Santa Fe and Albuquerque on July 5, 2011. In his Albuquerque talk, Rabbi Richman taught about the power of Torah to transform individuals, societies and world events. He talked about that week’s Torah portion, dealing with Bilaam, who tried tried to curse Israel, but ended up giving one of the most beautiful blessings, and about the 12 spies who slandered the Land of Israel, and how that sin is still playing out today, especially at this time of year, during the Hebrew months of Tamuz and Av. He explained how these events tie in and affect what we see happening today, and talked about current events and Israel, and about the good and evil forces at war in the world today, and of course about the Third Temple, may it be built speedily and in our days.
For the talk in Santa Fe at Kol BeRamah Beit Midrash, people came from as far as Taos and Arizona, as well as Santa Fe and Albuquerque. Rena Richman had been scheduled to give a class for women, but the Richmans’ flights were held up in Dallas and Houston due to mechanical difficulties, and they arrived early Tuesday afternoon rather than the intended Monday night. The day’s schedule was compressed, a planned interview on the Son Broadcasting TV network had to be cancelled, and the Kol BeRamah talk was moved up 2 hours, from noon to mid-afternoon. That didn’t discourage the Santa Fe people, and there was a full house for the talk. The Richmans had to leave immediately after the talk to go back to Albuquerque.
About 200 people came to the evening talk in Albuquerque, which was held at the UNM Anthropology building. The Rabbi’s visit was sponsored by UNM Israel Alliance, Kol BeRamah, Yad B’Yad and ZOA NM, and by the generous donations of several private individuals. In the audience were young and old, Jews, Christians, non-religious people and young families. They came from as far as Roswell, Ruidoso and Socorro as well as many people from Los Lunas, Belen and Albuquerque.
Many think that support for building the Temple on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem rests mainly with Christian Zionists, and the support is strong there. However, there is also considerable support in the Jewish community, not only in Israel, where a majority of Israelis want to see the Temple re-built, but also in the US. At the talk, the demographics were about 30% Jewish and 70% Non-Jewish. In the broader Jewish community, probably the majority and much of the leadership are afraid of people who say the Temple should be rebuilt, or that creating an Arab state within Israel is wrong and unworkable. Hillel, which often offers a guest room to visiting Jewish speakers, refused to host Rabbi Chaim and Rena Richman for the night for political reasons.
On the brighter side, NM State Representative Alonzo Baldonado and his wife, both strong supporters of Israel, came to the talk, and found it to be moving and worth the effort and the heat–the AC wasn’t working in the lecture hall. Of several local politicians invited, only Alonzo accepted the invitation, because he cares about Israel. He declined the invitation to say a few words before the talk and wanted to be part of the audience, not singled out for recognition. We should strongly support our elected officials who strongly support Israel, especially if we happen to live in their district. They should know it matters to the people they represent.