A number of people had trouble accessing last night's statewide interfaith discussion, "Children of Abraham," featuring Jewish, Christian and Muslim perspectives. You can watch the archived video by clicking on the photo above. The theme of the program was on how we can build bridges to help open up eyes to the needs of the Other. It is something we do here in our community routinely, but we should never take it for granted. That's why I'm so delighted at the current work of our TBE Immigration Committee, featured in an email to the congregation yesterday.
For me there were two moments that were most special last night: One, when a Palestinian named Muhammad talked about learning to bake hallah - and taking one home to Gaza to show the folks (who smiled).
And the other was at the very end when the host asked each of us to talk about what we admire most in Abraham (who, as mentioned above, is the central figure of this week's portion). A Muslim colleague talked about his absolute faith in God, even when asked to sacrifice his son. I retorted that I preferred Abraham's demonstration of chutzpah in calling on the judge of the world to do justice by sparing the people of Sodom and Gomorrah if there are only a few righteous among them.
But i found my Christian colleague's perspective most interesting. He talked about Abraham's patience. I've never thought about Abraham as a particularly patient guy, but I hadn't noticed before what must be a fairly popular theme in Christian commentaries. Abraham has, in the current email vernacular, "constant contact" with God at the beginning of the portion. But at one point that contact stops for a long period of time. Imagine what it must have been like to be told to leave your home, uproot the family, discover the new place to be filled with famine and strife - hardly the paradise it was built up to be - and then God disables the "send" button. Abraham and Sarah are left to their own devices, so to speak, with no IT help coming from on high. Not even Apple Care can offer assistance when God is silent.
This important lesson found expression in the poetry and music of the Holocaust. And it is a reminder that our neighbors have so much to teach us - about ourselves.
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