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Erev Shabbat Message from Rabbi Adam Feldman

Dear Friends,
 
Like so many of you, I was shocked to hear the news earlier this week from Las Vegas of yet another mass murder. In so many ways it made me feel like our country had taken another punch to our collective stomachs. We are faced - just 16 months after Orlando - with what is now the worst mass shooting in the history of our country.  We are once again forced to deal with the reality that we have people in our country who are filled with hate and desire to cause unthinkable destruction.
 
The people who I talked to this week about this story all agreed that we feel helpless; helpless in making sense of this horrible act.  It is a great challenge to decide how to talk to our children and friends about these stories in a way that is fair, honest and does not make them any more scared. We strive to teach young people to dream big and have hope for their future. We want them to look at the world as their laboratory and feel safe to explore, grow and experience all kinds of incredible things. We don't want that flame to be extinguished. As adults we are left with many questions and concerns including that we don't want hate to prevail and we certainly don't want anyone to live in fear.
 
On the Second Day of Rosh Hashanah, I taught a text during our Sanctuary service from the Book of Genesis. It is a text that we read every year on the holidays and a text that has been studied and explored for generations. The story of the Binding of Isaac and the role that Abraham, Isaac, Sara and others play in the story is worth more of our time and attention. One of the lessons that I take from that story is that we need to have the difficult conversations with our children and our parents that we sometimes put off. When God commanded Abraham to sacrifice his son, God never told him to not tell anyone - that is something Abraham chose to do on his own. It is for that reason that I am so bothered with Abraham in the story. Being part of a family means having difficult conversations and it means helping people feel more secure and safe.
 
Later tonight, Jews all over the world will begin to celebrate one of our major festivals; the holiday of Sukkot. One of the main symbols of the holiday is the Sukkah - a fragile, temporary structure that connects both to the story of the Israelites leaving Egypt and the agriculture season we are in. We refer to the Sukkah often in our liturgy as Sukkat Shalom - the canopy of peace. The timing of this festival in the same week as the tragedy of Las Vegas, can encourage us to not only talk about what happened, but to do so in a way that can bring peace, safety and security - things we are more aware of when we sit in the Sukkah. One of the Rabbinic names of the holiday is Hag HaAsif - the time of the gathering.
 
The unspeakable tragedy of Las Vegas reminds us that while evil still exists in the world, we must embrace the special moments in our everyday lives. I pray that as we gather in our sukkot in the coming days that we find strength from that togetherness, draw meaning from the holiday, and continue to teach each other the value and need for tikkun olam - repairing the world.
 
Chag Sukkot Sameach,
 
Rabbi Adam Feldman
Posted: 10/10/2017 9:16:12 AM by | with 0 comments

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