I've just returned from the Rabbinical Assembly convention at JTS, culminating in yesterday's Convocation where I was privileged to receive my honorary doctorate. My thanks to Eileen Rosner and Steve Lander for giving up a good chunk of their day to make the trip, along with my family, representing the congregation. The ceremony was quite moving, as I shared with over 50 colleagues the chance to celebrate the contributions that have been made over the past quarter century in service of the Jewish people. The accomplishments reflect a breadth and depth that is staggering, but the common denominator was how each rabbi has touched individual lives. Tens of thousands of lives, one life at a time, moment by moment, year by year.
It's an awe-inspiring profession. As daunting as it is to look forward, it is equally humbling and gratifying to reflect back on what has been accomplished. Still, I know that the title "Doctor of Divinity," nice as it is, means little. As our sources state, our deeds are our monuments...not our titles.
For the first time, some of the convention was videostreamed. I've embedded two keynote lectures on my blog, presented by Rabbis Harold Kushner and David Wolpe, prime spokespersons for Conservative Judaism. With the movement at a crossroads, it's not only rabbis who need to hear their inspiring messages.
Join us this evening at 6:30 outdoors (weather permitting) as Rabbinic Pastor David Daniel Klipper will lead a special "Nefesh" service to welcome Shabbat.
Tomorrow morning, we have no b'nai mitzvah, and we'll be discussing models of leadership in times of crisis, inspired by the portion of Beha'alotcha and various current catastrophies. See also David Brooks' column in today's Times: Drilling for Certainty.
Also featured this week:
TBE Bar/Bat Mitzvah Commentary: Sydney Katz on Naso
Jewish Baseball Site - this one gives up to date stats on the "home" team
Civility Wars - At this week's convention, a resolution was passed calling upon people of all political bents to be more civil toward one another. It echoes a resolution recently put forth by the ADL (see Jewish Groups Call for Civility), which was signed by the directors of both the National Jewish Democratic Council, and the Republican Jewish Coalition. With the political season clearly underway - did the last one ever end? - the ideals of this statement will surely be put to the test.
Also, see TBE teen Jackie Schechter's article in this week's Jewish Week, on last week's Israel Day Parade in NYC. Jackie wrote is part of the Write on For Israel project, which trains budding journalists in the intricasies of Israel advocacy as they prepare to enter college campuses. See the article here.
Also on the Jewish Week site, this week's Hammerman on Ethics column: The Ethics of Giving: Jewish vs. Non-Jewish?
Finally, on this Memorial Day Weekend, please take the time to reflect on the heroism of those who made the supreme sacrifice. See: A Rabbi's Sermon on Iwo Jima: A Memorial Day Tribute.
Here is a brief excerpt:
Thus do we memorialize those who, having ceased living with us, now live within us. Thus do we consecrate ourselves the living to carry on the struggle they began. Too much blood has gone into this soil for us to let it lie barren. Too much pain and heartache have fertilized the earth on which we stand. We here solemnly swear: this shall not be in vain! Out of this, and from the suffering and sorrow of those who mourn this, will come-we promise-the birth of a new freedom for the sons of men everywhere.
Warm wishes for a meaningful and enjoyable Memorial Day and Shabbat (and don't forget minyan is at 9 AM on BOTH Sunday and Monday)
Rabbi Joshua Hammerman