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Rabbi's Week In Review - 8/1/2022

08/01/2022 04:52:38 PM


As I write this, I am visiting with family out of town over a long weekend. It has been rejuvenating — a time of happiness and a time to feel hopeful. I always struggle with finding a balance between instilling hopefulness for myself and those around me (particularly my Kol Ami family) and engaging head-on  in the discouraging reality of our world.

There was some hopeful news in the past week with the possible breakthrough of legislation on climate change, which included enforcing tax obligations on the wealthiest Americans. It seemed to change the mood in the country or, at least momentarily, the persistent negative slant of our media. We need these moments of hope in order to confront the evils in the world, and to stay engaged in the work of healing the world.

Fay and I have been watching a lot of Somebody Feed Phil. On the show, Phil Rosenthal visits different cities around the world, eating the local fare and meeting people of great generosity along the way. He is a beacon of joy and hope. Particularly when he visits Tel Aviv, he finds Israelis and Palestinians, Jews and Arabs, living together in an environment of harmony and respect. He finds hope amidst the conflict and hatred. While this may be an idealized approach to the reality of our existence, it is the hope that carries us forward. We love the show for Phil’s goofiness and for his example of what harmonious living with those not like us can be, even if it does not reflect the reality of our world.

We will also observe Tisha B’Av this Saturday night and Sunday. It is the saddest day on the Jewish calendar. While it may temper our sense of hope by focusing on all the tragedies of our Jewish past, it is important that we not ignore that past. Likewise, we are obligated not to ignore present tragedies in our communities and in our world. Yet the day is designed to end on a hopeful note. After three weeks of reading words of admonition and scolding in the Book of Jeremiah, we will get seven weeks of consolation and hope in the Book of Isaiah, leading us up to Rosh Hashanah.

We continue to struggle with and strive to find the balance between harsh reality and hope.  That is our Jewish existence, an existence that keeps us working toward a better world.

Fri, September 22 2023 7 Tishrei 5784