Oct 16, 2018

A Rabbi Goes to Church

A Rabbi Goes to Church
© Rabbi Menachem Creditor

In between teaching one class and another, I stopped into a beautiful NYC church. The language outside, "all guests who present themselves are to be welcomed" had struck since the first time I'd seen them, months ago. I stood, wondering if the building was open to the public when a man wearing traditional Sikh clothing emerged and held the door open for me. I entered. The person at the desk welcomed me in, shared a brochure with me of the history of the church, and waved me in. I share this in admiration of the mission of this church, which hosts a homeless shelter every night of the year.

I type these words, sitting at the back of the glorious chapel, as a few people come in and out, as another person nearby is snoring, undisturbed, in the sacred air. And, as I sit here, no one has worried who I am, nor asked me for anything.

I am not unaware of the differences between Jewish and Christian histories, and understand the very real need in our modern world for security. But I am struck nonetheless by the following question: What would the Jewish world look like today if synagogues shared the mission "all guests who present themselves are to be welcomed?"

Oct 12, 2018

The Profound Gift of Ritual

The Profound Gift of Ritual
© Rabbi Menachem Creditor

This moment is a difficult one in our world. It's true. It might also be that it is 'simply' the most recent such moment, with countless hardships in the past and a flow of challenges ahead. Hence, the profound joy of ritual, of being held by something larger than myself, the comfort of predictable stability in a shaky world, of something lasting and beautiful.

I am holding my child's tefilin in my hand. I remember when his older sister first received hers. I remember when my father gave me my tefilin. These are holy moments, where we lovingly tie ourselves to each other and to the world beyond us. My children will find their own ways, I know. I trust their hearts to find meaning in the world. This magic moment, worthy of pause, marked by blessing, is bigger than us all. It binds us to our People, to the Source of Life, to the world.

As we say while putting tefilin on, may we be bound together in Trust, Love, Righteousness, Justice, and intimate relationship with the Holy Blessed One.

Amen. Amen. Amen.

#tefilin #ritual #blessing #tradition #holiness #sacred #pause #jewish #parenting #father #son #barmitzvah #joy #gratitude #buildingonlove

Oct 8, 2018

Beyond this American Moment

Beyond this American Moment
© Rabbi Menachem Creditor

As excruciating as this moment in American history may be, it is also a moment of American history and the erosion (perceived, real, and threatened) of institutions of our democracy should be deeply worrisome.

Nationalism (carefully understood as the notion that one's country is worthy of existence) requires faith in a system that surpasses the exigencies of the day, and faith is itself larger than one's own life. Therefore, we dare not abandon faith in the legitimacy of the institutions of our nation.

America has done (and continues to do) wrong things. Very wrong things. We have also accomplished great things. Truly magnificent ones. We are Senator McCarthy and we are Dr. King. We are RBG and we are DJT. In truth, America has only been as great in any given moment as Americans have acted in that given moment, and ours is one such trial. We have always been, in a word, as complicated as our citizenship, just as noble, just as unconscionably rude, just as irrepressibly hopeful. The Framers foretold such a reality because they themselves were hardly united in politics or in temperaments.

I will not wield my passionate American patriotism as a chisel against the institutions that comprise American Democracy, though I do believe unsuited human beings currently lead those institutions. A deeper view of our nation's still-short history deserves reinvestment in civic duty, not a rebellion against it.

If America hopes to transcend the harsh, partisan spirit of this national moment, we Americans must call upon their our angels in a moment when lesser ones beckon.

#America #patriotic #democracy #SCOTUS #potus #congress #faith #nation #justice #history #civic #duty

Sep 12, 2018

A Rosh Hashannah story of Shofar, Tradition, and Love 

A Rosh Hashannah story of Shofar, Tradition, and Love 

© Rabbi Menachem Creditor 

Among many high points of this Rosh HaShannah was one that will, for me, forever stand outside of time. For 21 years, I have called the blasts of the shofar according to my father's #tradition: soft, aware, quiet, standing in awe of the shofar's shattering and healing primal sound. That final call, the "tekiah gedolah," I quietly sing as a descending minor chord, just as my father did. Each and every time I have heard his voice pour through mine. It's overwhelming and glorious.

This year even moreso.

A sparkling human being blew piercing blasts each time the shofar was part of the service. I witnessed my beautiful children in the back of the sanctuary, holding each other, feeling the spirit of Rosh HaShannah in their shining eyes.

And then: for the final blasts of #RoshHaShannah, I brought my #children under my #tallit, the new, stunning tallit in which my #wife enfolded me during our #wedding just weeks ago.

And then: my eldest, my teacher, asked if I wanted them to call for the shofar's blasts with me. At first I said no. 'That isn't how it's done,' I thought to myself.

And then: I felt my children's love pervade me, God's blessing filling my eyes, gratitude for the profound gift of each of my children (what a blessing, for my wife and me, for that to have increased: now there are 5 souls to love!)... I asked my children to call for that final Tekiah Gedolah with me. They didn't miss a beat, calling it softly with their sweet voices, according to their grandfather's tradition.

Though I'm sure others in the congregation noticed, and hopefully approved, in that etetnal moment I only sensed the love I have for my children and the searing call of the ram's horn. I was suddenly Abraham, seeing the ram stuck in the bramble, hearing the painful echoes of the Jewish history, holding my children close, weeping on their heads, asking God to bless them with health and safety and love, asking God to bless me with many years to grow up with them, celebrating life and love and family.

What I'm saying is: Thank You, Holy One, for the magic of my children's hearts. Thank You for the primal power of #shofar. Thank You for every new day.


rabbi menachem creditor 

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