Author of "Embracing Auschwitz" and "Mensch•Marks: Life Lessons of a Human Rabbi - Wisdom for Untethered Times." Winner of the Rockower Award, the highest honor in Jewish journalism and 2019 Religion News Association Award for Excellence in Commentary. Musings of a rabbi, journalist, father, husband, poodle-owner, Red Sox fan and self-proclaimed mensch, taken from essays, columns, sermons and thin air. Writes regularly in the New York Jewish Week and Times of Israel.
Friday, August 27, 2021
In This Moment: August 27, 2021
In This Moment
Juliet Simmons, creator of Reboot's newest project, What Would You Bring?, shares her thoughts on the increasing helplessness we all feel about the current Afghan crisis (and this was written before the latest atrocity directed against innocent human beings, including American soldiers) “So much in the world feels overwhelming right now but we have a moral responsibility to amplify the voices of those in Afghanistan — particularly women and children... The scale of the problem may seem hopeless, but we don’t have the luxury of standing back. Our small actions can make a difference. They must. Big journeys begin with small steps.” See this moving video tribute to refugees, written from a unique Jewish perspective, below.
Shabbat Services in the Matthew Klein Memorial Garden
Join us Friday evening at 7 for a lovely service in a lovely setting. And on Shabbat morning we'll celebrate the ufruf of Gary Freilich and Danielle Hauser there as well. Mazal tov to the Freilich and Hauser families. Both services will be available on Zoom. And then join us on Saturday night for Selichot services in Norwalk and online. Click here for details.Here's a digital Selchot prayer book.
Next week is the first time since 1994 that Rosh Hashanah coincides with Labor Day. So of course I have some Jewish texts on labor for you, covering fair wages, the right to organize, the works (pun intended).
Next week we arrive at a new year. We've made it! As the Shehechianu reminds us, our whole existence has led to this moment. And as we bless the Source of Life, think of God not as a hierarchical "Lord" and master over us, but as a connecting link - the breath that every living being shares. As an exercise, watch another living being breathe - preferably another species.Go to the Stamford Nature Center and watch the animals breathe. Watch your pet breathe. I watched mine stop breathing last month and it was one of the most powerful moments of my life.
And then, throughout our services, try something different. Instead of saying the substitute for God’s name that we tend to use – Adonai or “Lord,” let’s pronounce the four letters Yod-Hay-Vav-Hay as they are actually written on the page.
As the Jewish thinker Art Waskow writes, ““Adonai” endorses a worldview based on hierarchy. But if we try to pronounce “YHWH” with no vowels, what happens is simply a Breath. It is a universal connector between and among all forms of life, animal and plant. It expresses an interwoven or ecological, rather than hierarchical, understanding of the world – the uniqueness of each being within the Unity of all Being, fitting together like the diverse pieces of a jigsaw puzzle in the whole array.”
We are part of that eternally evolving puzzle – that living being called Being, interwoven within that organism called Earth.
There is a blessing that is said whenever we realize the miracle of this present moment. We bless God who gave us Life, sustained us and brought us to this very moment. We say this blessing when we do something for the first time, to honor and express the wonder of having arrived. In meditation, I experience each moment as a momentous arrival. My whole existence has led me to this very moment — the culmination of my Life thus far, where I am privileged to experience the fullness of this NOW. God who is that miraculous force of Grace unfolding has brought me Home. In encountering and honoring that force of Homecoming, I turn and receive the gift of my life.