Where to begin? When last I wrote to the CNS community, it was Erev Tisha Be'Av. That sad, holy day is a punctuation in the Jewish calendar that stands out with such painful clarity its passing leaves us gasping for breath. Fear and pain can make it hard to breathe, almost impossible to even imagine a future.
Immediately upon Tisha Be'Av's departure I left for a week as Rabbi-in-Residence at Camp Ramah in Ojai. And, after bumping into the many CNS kids spending their summer as Ramah campers, I experienced the antidote to Tisha Be'Av: a JewishSong/Dance Festival! I witnessed frenetic energy being happily expended by the young and less-young Jews around me, and I wept. I sobbed looking at the silly happy Jewish people around me. Somehow, despite my own few years, I felt my soul bridge an expanse of centuries and millenia, overwhelmed with relief and gratitude that we are still here, that our People can sing and dance and rap and riverdance and allow our grief to be overwhelmed with joy every now and again. I somehow saw that night's celebration as a Jewish survivor who never thought Jewish joy could be real. One day after ritual memory of Jerusalem's destructions washed over us all for Tisha Be'av, that night Jews broke free of fear to dance. Words cannot express my heart's gratitude to have felt this
way. One experience
after another at Ramah of line-dances and laughter, friendship and and Torah learning woke up my soul.
Chevreh - it is good to be awake in such a profound way! I am so excited for the coming month at CNS leading us all into the Yamim Nora'im, our High Holy Days. A sample of the coming programs and experiences at Netivot Shalom should suffice to make my enthusiasm contagious:
Aug 21, 11:00 am: Rabbi Citron of the Carlebach Shul in Manhattan will discuss "The Influence of Lurianic Mysticism on Judaism Today"
Aug 23, 6:30 pm: A Presentation on the Israel Ride and Arava Institute, the premier environmental studies program in the Middle East, preparing future Arab and Jewish leaders to cooperatively solve the region's environmental challenges.
I am also deeply moved to announce that Netivot Shalom is marking the 10th anniversary of September 11th with a special September 10th Shabbat morning Drasha by Ruth Messinger, Executive Director of American Jewish World Service (AJWS) and a special program on September 11th itself, cosponsored with our friends in our local Turkish Muslim community. Stay tuned for more information about these important moments.
Chevreh - this is far from a complete list. Visit our shul's online calendar and our new CNS blog for even more! Given the urgency of our shul's financial picture, this year will see us reaching deep to sustain the vision of Netivot Shalom. We have very serious work to do. I offer the following teaching in that light:
In the aftermath of Tisha Be'Av, we can dwell in the depths.
Or we can raise our sights to the heavens and do some serious dreaming.
The deepest Jewish message I know is that when hope is available and waiting for the activating, take your whole self - including all your fear and pain and memory. Harness all of this to change the world, starting with yourself.
You have untold power within.
Jump in. Find a way to build yourself with our precious Netivot Shalom community. Yes, fear
is real and fragility is a universal condition. Tisha Be'Av's lessons do linger. But that will never immobilize us from making beautiful miracles happen for our community and for the world. Let's Dream!
I had a beautiful day today. I stood with my sister, a passionate rabbi serving the U.S. Navy as a chaplain, at the World War II Memorial in Washington D.C. We remembered our grandfather of blessed memory, who fought for America and shared hard-earned wisdom with his children and grandchildren.
I looked to my right and saw the Washington Monument. Looked to my left at the Lincoln Memorial. I read quotes engraved on massive stones. And I felt, to my core, one sad feeling: too much war.
Too. Much. War.
The quotes and certain retellings of history would have me believe that we fought for pure purposes: we fought for religious freedom, we fought to end slavery, we fought for freedom for all humanity, we fought to end tyranny. But it's also true that we fought (and fight) for economic interests. It&…