Uncle_Sam_(pointing_finger)

Witness or Activist?

Uncle_Sam_(pointing_finger) The political contest unfolding in the race for President is unlike anything we have witnessed. Not in recent memory have such divergent views been offered as the vision for the United States of America. But will we merely watch from the sidelines or will we engage?

It is incumbent upon us to engage. We can engage by learning all we can about the visions each candidate puts forward and sharing our thoughts with those around us. We were taught it was impolite to discuss politics. So I suggest that we discuss the issues at stake instead. We discuss our view of the government’s role in the lives of its citizens and we discuss the role of our nation in the world. Jewish values of tzedakah, social responsibility through sharing our blessings with the disadvantaged among us and creating the world we aspire to see, are at the heart of who we are as Jews and as a nation. We stand for protecting the oppressed, feeding the poor, clothing the naked, and sheltering the homeless.  We must continue to champion these ideals.

Instead of delving into ugly character assassinations, let us seek to promote our particular worldview and discuss which person and which party supports our view and is equipped to fight the fights necessary to achieve that vision.

Respectful conversations about who we are and where we are going should  always be welcome and they are never more important than they are now. The ultimate expression of this conversation is voting and casting a ballot for a candidate. This is the highest declaration of our commitment to our future.

 Will you be a witness to history or an active part in its unfolding? The choice is yours.

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Shabbat Shalom – Peace and Reflection

ShabbatCandlesThis Shabbat, rather than a musical selection, I want to offer a moment to reflect on the recent tragedies and  acts of horrible violence we have experienced.

 Tonight the words Shamor v’Zachor will dance in my mind as the light from the flickering flames of the Shabbat candles fill the room. It will not be a joyful beautiful dance this evening. Tonight I will somberly reflect on what it means to remember and preserve Shabbat. So much violence, so many lives needlessly taken by fear and violence. How will I react?

 I hope to rise above my own anger and frustration. Instead of hate, I want to resolve to be part of something better. I will look to my community and join with them as my community joins with others. I hope to become part of something greater that aligns with the message of hope instead of despair, of love instead of hate, of joy instead of pain.

 Join me in committing to something better. Find your caring community and become part of it. Embrace and share the values that will transform our communities, our nation, and our world the place it ought to be. On this Shabbat let us dedicate that we will be an active part of bringing peace and wholeness to the world. May it begin with this Shabbat.

Shabbat Shalom

 

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Happy Independence Day

Happy July 4th!

flagfireworksIndependence Day is special. Despite flaws, the United States is great. We are blessed to live in a land where liberty and equality are the founding principles. As a Jew, I am profoundly grateful to be a citizen where I am free and safe from the hatred that has sadly been a part of Jewish history. As Americans, we need to remain vigilant, protecting and expanding these rights for all citizens and understand that our greatness comes from all of our people and our core beliefs.

Our election comes at a time when the world and our nation are confronted by many challenges. How we respond to these challenges will be telling. Will fear make us retract and retrench, or can we rise to the occasion shining a beacon to others in the world? The value boldly asserted in the Declaration of Independence that we are “endowed by (our) creator with the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” is the bedrock of the American Experiment, the aspiration of so many across the globe and for us as well.

We have come a long way and yet there is so much further to go. We must not stop.

God bless America!

Mourning the loss of an innocent life

Hillel Yaffe Ariel

Hillel Yaffe Ariel

We mourn the loss of Hillel Yaffe Ariel, brutally murdered while asleep in her bed. Hatred, violence, and murder of children do nothing to further the cause of peace or coexistence. Indeed often hardens the heart making the future for two people even more difficult.

Let us take this time to grieve for this innocent child and refuse to let anger and hatred consume us.

May her memory be a blessing.