923 McCallie Avenue, Chattanooga, TN 37403

A Message from Rabbi Norry: April 28, 2021

Abraham, BZ, and B7

After traveling from his home far to the East, and after walking the entire length of the land of Canaan, Abraham finally settles by a well in the Judean desert. The descendants of Abraham live today in this same place, and it still carries the same name Be’er Sheva. Today, B7 (that’s how the hip Israelis say Be’er Sheva) is one of the fastest growing areas in the modern State of Israel. The vision of a flourishing desert is being realized on the very ground where Abraham settled.

Abraham’s entire life is characterized by movement. He is always going from one place to the next. The classical rabbis noticed this and commented that his life’s movement is a larger message about the fluid nature of life, and the importance of flexibility, adaptability, and mobility in our spiritual and social experience. So, the question presents itself…why did Abraham choose Be’er Sheva. Of all the places he travelled, what made him stop there?

Smack dab in the middle of the desert, B7 was not an easy place to live. Sure, there was water, but there were wells in other places too, and those places were better for grazing and agriculture. Certainly, there were more hospitable places? I learned many years ago from an Israeli environmental educator that B7 is actually at the center of several geological and ecological phenomenon. While standing on the sand dunes outside Ashkelon, he explained that it is the very tip of the Sahara Desert, and the very end of the alps. It receives weather from both the southern and northern hemispheric streams and sits on a major continental fault. In other words, B7 was a place that connected Abraham to God and to the entire world.

Having found that experience, Abraham plants an orchard, and with it, his own roots.

I think we are like Abraham.

We too, as Jews and as human beings, are defined by our journey. We travel, and sometimes wander, as we look for places and moments when we feel most connected to God and to each other. Be’er Sheva is not an address. It is not a building. Abraham does not settle there because it is convenient, or comfortable, or what he imagined his home in Israel would be. It is nothing more nor less than the place where he felt connected.

I think our BZ is like B7.

Our synagogue is still travelling. We are still ‘walking the length of the country’. That’s OK. It was part of Abraham’s story, and it is a part of ours. Wherever we may come to plant our future ‘orchard’, we have already planted deep roots. Our people, and the part we play in our community, are more foundational than our address. They are our ‘place’ of connection with each other, the larger community, God, and Israel. They are our own sustaining well…our own B7.

Office Hours

B’nai Zion Congregation
923 McCallie Avenue
Chattanooga, TN 37403
(enter parking lot from Oak Street)

Monday: Closed
Tuesday-Thursday: 10:00am – 4:00pm
Friday: 10:00am – 3:00pm

Please call ahead to confirm someone will be in the office when you arrive!


Rabbi Samuel Rotenberg: rabbirotenberg@bzcongregation.com

Autumn Clark, Office Manager: office@bzcongregation.com

Phone: 423.894.8900

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