Friday, June 24, 2016

Vigil This Saturday

Dear Friends,

It’s easy after a week like this to become anxious and depressed.  The Brexit vote has undermined the unity of Europe, sent the financial world reeling, and injected a sense of uncertainty into the world economy ; the Supreme Court left an Appeals court ruling stand that will undermine the President’s immigration policy and make this fall’s election even more tense; the Democrats in Congress staged a sit-in on the floor of the House to protest the lack of progress on gun control, creating an unprecedented stand-off between the parties; and all this as we still grieve the horrific slaughter of 49 Americans in a terror attack in Orlando.

After such a week it is hard to feel any sense of hope.  And yet hope is what our sacred tradition teaches.    Our Torah says that when the People of Israel were trapped between the Red Sea and Pharaoh's armies – wracked with fear and trembling  - God reached out and saved us "with a mighty hand and outstretched arm," splitting the Reed Sea so we could cross to safety.  But, the midrash sees it a bit differently.  Yes, God did save us, but first one man, Nachshon ben Aminadav, jumped into the water, wading in up to his neck, willing the waters to part.  It was after seeing Nachshon take those daring steps of faith that God responded by splitting the sea.

Understood another way, we are the fingers on God’s mighty hand, God’s outstretched arm.  We can keep our fingers balled into a fist, in which case we will continue to inflict punishment on one another.  Or we can open our hands, reaching out to one another as neighbors, as friends, as fellow Americans.  We can reach out our hands, offering help and assistance.  We can hold each other’s hands and hold each other up.  We can be the fingers on God’s mighty hand and outstretched arm. 

And we can start tomorrow.  “Memory, Unity, Hope:  A Vigil for the Victims of the Orlando Massacre” will be held on Saturday, June 25, 3:30 – 4:15 p.m. in Huyler Park, Tenafly.  All are invited to participate in this gathering for prayer and remembrance, sponsored by the Tenafly Interfaith Association.  We will stand together to send a message of love, mutual support and solidarity to our community.  I hope you can join us.  We certainly need the hope.

Shabbat Shalom.