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Rabbi's Week In Review - 6/7/2021

06/07/2021 02:46:52 PM

Jun7

As I write this, I am watching the annual Kennedy Center Honors. In any year, I am more a fan of some honorees than others, yet I look forward to the show every year. I find it uplifting and life-affirming. I went to college a stone’s throw from the Kennedy Center, and the show always conjures up fond memories — of concerts with the National Symphony, and one of the great jazz concerts in my lifetime, the Milestone Jazzstars with Sonny Rollins, McCoy Tyner and Ron Carter. These memories, the annual televised program and the place all point toward gratitude for art and the way it connects us to one another.

After another acrimonious week, the Kennedy Center Honors was, for me, a needed salve, in the way it celebrates the ability of art (music, dance, drama) to uplift the soul, and to be about what is good and what we are for versus what we are against. The honorees, through their art, reach out to our better selves.

In our Jewish community, I am convinced that our survival will ultimately hinge on whether we can define ourselves by what we are for, and not be solely committed to what we are against.  When anti-Semitism rears its ugly head, it is difficult to see beyond it or commit our energy to do anything other than fight it.  

Living our highest Jewish values is easy when we are not under threat. It is under threat that we are tested in our ability to live those values. Can we get beyond ourselves to work for the welfare of the stranger in our midst? Can we see in others the image of G-d in which they were also created? Committing ourselves to pursue a better world for all its inhabitants is both our obligation as Jews and a gift that gives meaning and purpose to our lives. May we always honor that gift.

Sat, June 19 2021 9 Tammuz 5781