Fun for all at last Saturday evening's Family Havdalah Program
On this somewhat wintry day preceding a very wintry weekend, here's a quote from the great poet Mary Oliver, who passed away this week, from her poem, "Starlings in Winter."
I want to think again of dangerous and noble things. I want to be light and frolicsome. I want to be improbably beautiful and afraid of nothing, as though I had wings.
This poem offers us a choice. We can either succumb to winter's doldrums and sink into our easy chairs by the fire - which, come to think of it, isn't so bad, as long as there is hot chocolate in the picture somewhere. Or, like the starling, we can come alive in the snow. The frigid cold can either deaden us or awaken us, lull us into doldrums or ignite the spark of activism.
This is the challenge posed by this weekend's perfect storm of holidays. It is Shabbat Shira, the Sabbath when the Song of the Red Sea is chanted as the Exodus story reaches its climax. It's also Tu B'Shevat a reminder that nature's liberation parallels our national Exodus, even as the sap is beginning to rise in Israel - which confronted its own snow storm this week.
And it is Martin Luther King weekend as well, a constant reminder of what he called the "Urgency of Now." King stated:
If we do not act, we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark, and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.
It makes one wonder what King would be saying were he preaching today.
This evening, TBE congregant Beth Boyer will be speaking about her specialty, Asylum and the Law, a key topic these days, and for Jews, every day - whenever we stand to sing that song of the Red Sea (which is actually twice daily). Join us tonight! We are signatories to the HIAS Welcome Campaign. Read about it here.
I hope you can join us tomorrow as well, when we'll be examining closely Dr. King's words, as placed in an authentic Jewish context. Ruth Messinger, the Global Ambassador of the American Jewish World Service (and its former president and CEO), has put together the "Talmud of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr." Preview it here, and join us tomorrow for the discussion.
One other announcement: The Stamford community's annual Chevra Kadisha dinner will be held at Temple Beth El on Tuesday night, February 12, 2019. The Chevra (Burial Society) performs what is considered the greatest and most selfless mitzvah of preparing the departed for burial. f you'd like to reserve a spot, or make a donation, please click here.
Wishing you and yours a meaningful MLK weekend, a happy Tu B'Shevat and Shabbat Shalom.
Rabbi Joshua Hammerman