© Rabbi Menachem Creditor
in Memory of Rabbi Chanan Feld z"l
Have you ever seen a "flash mob?" (Youtube is full of them.) It is a large group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform a coordinated action, and then disperse. For a brief, fleeting moment, they are one body in motion.
I sat tonight in a packed room with others assembled to mourn the loss of Rabbi Chanan Feld, a dear teacher in our community in Berkeley. The gathering was a manifestation of Chanan's spiritual impact on so many different kinds of people. To my right was a fellow Conservative Rabbi, to my left was the chair of Judaic Studies at UCSF, to his left was a Renewal rabbi, to his left was a Chabad Rabbi. That one row comforted me, and gave me hope that through a life-practice of simple kindness (like Chanan's) we can be reminded that we're truly connected with one another, that we're family. Because there are legitimate things that divide us, that indicate a particular vision for the world. But we all rose as one when Chanan's family entered the room. We stood together to honor them, without considering the different rituals we might each have crafted for the moment. We were standing as one body, with one heart.
I remember being at a U2 concert in NYC the month after 9/11, as shattered as the other 20,000 people in attendance. The concert exquisitely wove music and images and dragged pierced our hearts over and over. But one moment remains etched in my memory: During "In the Name of Love," I peeked out through my tears and noticed that everyone in Madison Square Garden was moving their arms and bodies in the same way. I remember being overcome with the experience of witnessing God.
I believe God is more present when more of us feel each other's pain and act as one to heal, as is written in Ecclesiastes: "A multitude of people is God's Glory (Mishlei 14:28)"
Tonight was smaller, but only by visible measurement.
May we find less need for healing tomorrow and still stand as one.
Rabbi Menachem Creditor
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