I take this opportunity to apologize to any of who whom I may have inadvertently offended or hurt, and ask for your forgiveness.
A blessing from Rabbi Sidney Greenberg:
May the door of this synagogue be wide enough To receive all who hunger for love, All who are lonely for companionship. May it welcome all who have cares to unburden, Thanks to express, hopes to nurture. May the door of this synagogue be narrow enough To shut out pettiness and pride, envy and enmity. May its threshold be no stumbling block To young or straying feet. May it be too high to admit complacency, Selfishness and harshness. May this synagogue be, for all who enter, The doorway to a richer and more meaningful life.
Tonight there is no annual fund raiser. There will be no requests for money or financial commitment. Instead I will share with you lessons from Beth Evergreen, from the Blackfeet native people of Montana, and the nation of Cuba. I will thank you for the progress we have made, and ask you to consider what your role is in tikkun olam, the repair of the world.
From the Blackfeet native people in Montana, I learned, when I took a team of Sandy Hook teens and their chaperones there this summer, that friendship and commitment develop quickly in an environment of trust and giving ( as well as ceremonies and great food). Extending oneself to another who is suffering is a normal part of the Blackfeet way.
Tragedy exists everywhere; dealing with tragedy with love and ritual leads the way to healing. I learned from the Sandy Hook teens, that young adults(the “kids”, as we called them) have extraordinary resilience, and an intense desire to help heal the world. From their chaperones I learned that turning from tragedy to a hopeful future can be a rocky road. From Pastor Hill, I learned that weaving the beliefs and traditions of multiple cultures and religions is not only possible, but bridges the gap between people.
From the Cuban people, I Iearned that despite all odds, laughter and love triumph. During our recent volunteer trip to what at first glance appeared to be a land left behind in time, I was struck by the easy love and affection of Cuba’s people: extended to total strangers, who soon became friends and co-workers. Hand in hand, paint brushes together, crochet hooks ready , and teaching materials spread out, I learned that our team of 12 could make a difference. Yes, we finished our assigned painting, the sanded walls were done, the throw rugs completed, the garden weeded, and numerous English lessons completed. But that, I learned, was not the measure of success. Success was measured by the relationships developed, the smiles in the photos, the hugs , kisses and tears when we departed. As our host, Eduardo likes to say: “we will build bridges that our governments can walk on” I learned that a small group of individuals can make a difference in waging peace and pursuing justice.
From Beth Evergreen: I have learned that a passionate and devoted group of people can move mountains and create a warm and safe place for those without shelter. We will be opening the Emergency Shelter in just a few weeks. Determination, grit and passion have gotten us this far. We need your help to provide a welcoming home for our guests. Is that you?
I have learned that creativity and innovation abound in our midst. Our new lifelong learning program, spearheaded by Tara Saltzman, Carol Morris, Rabbi Jamie and the education committee has launched. This astounding new program needs the support of the congregation, and the education committee needs a new chair. Is that you?
From our fantastic Board of Directors, I have learned that generosity knows no bounds, and comes in many forms. Your Board members have given of themselves, their time, their commitment, and their money to make sure the congregation reaches our goals. We have an open position on the Board. Is that you?
From our Adult education team lead by Marilyn Saltzman I have learned that we have deeply knowledgeable and talented teachers in the congregation who have taught inspiring sessions. Steve Tick has shown us how to add the talents of outside speakers to broaden our experience. We need additional attendees and contributors for these dinners and events. Is that you?
From all of you, I have learned that compassion and healing come from many sources. We have provided caring, food, transportation and support for many of our congregants this year. Help is always needed. Is that you?
Marge Piercy writes: “Attention is love, what we must give children, mothers, fathers, pets, our friends, the news, the woes of others. What we want to change we curse and then pick up a tool. Bless whatever you can with eyes and hands and tongue. If you can’t bless it, get ready to make it new.”
At this Rosh Hashanah, let’s open our eyes to the world around us. Let’s force ourselves to live in the present. Let’s figure out what we want to change, and then let’s pick up a tool, and bless whatever we can. And if we can’t bless it, let’s get ready to make it new.
L’shanah tovah – may it be a good year.