Blessings for Unity
How blessed we are in our day and time! We are free to study about Jewish tradition, learn something of the Hebrew language, offer traditional blessings for babies, for youth at bar or bat mitzvah, for a wedding couple under the chuppah, offer a Jewish purification and burial, and celebrate holy days and Shabbats together. No one stops us or has laws against gathering for worship or classes, or puts us in danger for identifying with our religion, as has happened so many times in our history.
Please, please, take advantage of this precious freedom, of our teachers willing to pass down our heritage to each other and to the next generation of students. Please bring your own unique presence, talents, and insights to discuss the Torah portion of the week, or to take advantage of the many educational offerings planned for the coming months, or support the variety of cultural activities and social groups of our congregation.
Our country, and indeed the world, is in a tumultuous time of change, with unexpected events happening all around us, violence done to people of color or wearing an ethnic head covering, and amplified by the nightly news and headlines. Let us unify as a community, and stand firmly for communication, compassion, and cooperation. I will be wearing a safety pin on my clothing, a signal that is spreading as a symbol of a “safe person” who will come to the aid of anyone who is facing discrimination or attack. I do not live in a large city and am not on busy streets or in subways or other public transportation, so I do not know how effective this symbol will be, but I hope the idea spreads and we all take responsibility for caring for the stranger, the minority person, the woman... anyone who finds him or herself in a hostile situation. I call on my congregants, my clergy colleagues, and all in the wider community to proclaim our highest values and not let violence or discrimination be tolerated in our midst.
Let’s be positive and kind to each other…. a light to the nations.
And, in that spirit, you are invited to come to celebrate Hanukkah, festival of light and freedom, on Monday, December 26 at 4 p.m.
Blessing for Kislev 5777 (December 1 - 29, 2016)
At this darkest time of the year, we light candles to bring in light, symbolizing freedom. May we all gather together to kindle the light of the Hanukkah candles. May we be like the Shamash, the helper candle that is used to light the other candles, and kindle the soul-spark in those we encounter. Our own light is never diminished by giving light to others. – Amen.