I’ll be brief…you’re probably at the movies!
Tobi suggested to me that one of the nice things about Christmas day is that there is no work, there’s a sense of quiet around, it is a public holiday and we have no obligations. How rare that is!
Yet I’m here in my office preparing for Shabbat as Tobi is at home doing the same!
I want to describe a scene…You have heard about Family Promise, I am sure. But if not, you know that Family Promise is an interfaith effort to provide housing and support and counselling for families, mothers or mothers and fathers and their children who have fallen through the cracks, have come into misfortune and need shelter, care and help. Together with other religious institutions in this community, and under the competent leadership of Mark Wasserman, members of B’nai Torah have been responsible volunteers for many years.
This week it is difficult for our Christian partners to find host families, since so many are celebrating and preparing for Christmas. The volunteers prepare the meals and provide company for the temporary residents. So we make sure that our synagogue members take on this particular week. Wednesday night I went to the Family Promise home and helped our members Mindy and Dr. Jack Rosensweig and Mark Wasserman. We were joined by four members of the Islamic Center of Boca Raton. So there we were Jews and Muslims, together, helping Christians on this night. The conversation was lively, open and warm. Each of the volunteers had a story to tell. We were united in service to our neighbors and we were united in a spirit of brotherhood and sisterhood as Americans. We share a common vision of pluralism and respect. It was really beautiful.
And I thought about our world and I thought about the voices that shout so loudly words of hate. And I affirm this realization. Most people are capable of good. And, in truth, there are many more people doing good then acting out in violence and terror. The world is not only what we see in the news. And we have a job. Our job is to engage the world, to find others like ourselves who hold on to essential human values, respect life, live lives of faith valuing family and community and accepting a world that is diverse and capable of beauty. We shouldn’t let ourselves become more narrow and constricted in front of our televisions and in our tendency to close ourselves to others. Although not total control, we have a lot of control over the world and how we perceive it and how we impact it.
Let us always choose to work for good.
See you in shul,
Rabbi David Steinhardt
P.S. Please let me know if you are interested in joining our group studying at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem this coming June. Go to their web site:www.shalomhartman.org
This column is dedicated to the memory of Rubin Shafran z”l