“In These Times”

Elul - Tishri - 5776, 5777

VOL. 50 NO. 1


Aliza Goland, Executive Director Marcy Goldberg, Director of Education Donna Becker, ECC Director

Peggy Frank, President, Board of Directors Alan Greenbaum, Rabbi Emeritus

Andrew Straus, Rabbi David Shukiar, Cantor

From the Rabbi’s Desk Light to Live By

One day, Rabbi Arthur Waskow* was walking in the old city of Jerusalem, near Jaffa gate. He noticed a street light had been placed on top of an ancient building stone. It was a busy square and most people just rushed by. But Waskow, being the keen observer that he is, noticed that engraved on the stone were the letters “LEG X.” The stone, Waskow realized, was a relic of Titus’s Tenth Roman Legion, which had destroyed Jerusalem almost two thousand years ago. How amazing, he thought, that this ancient stone has been recycled and is now the base of a lamp which lights up the city. Waskow wrote, “Giving light: a strange renewal of the old Menorah. And a strange reversal of the Arch of Titus: where the Arch turned the light from the menorah into stone, this street lamp turns the stone back into light. Light to live by.” And this is ultimately what the Yamim Noraim , the High Holy Days, are all about. During the course of the year, many of us have become hardened. We have become stuck in our ways, we have become closed off from ourselves, each other, from our community and from God. The Yamim Noraim give us an opportunity to turn stone back into light. The Yamim call to us to examine and reflect upon the past year to feel good about what we have done well, but also to be brutally honest with ourselves and reflect upon where we have missed the mark. These days call upon us to grow and change, to say, “I am sorry” to those we have hurt, either intentionally or unintentionally. But equally, they call upon us to grant forgiveness to those who have wronged us. But to change and grow is hard work. I can only imagine how hard the stone mason worked to carve those letters into that rock

2000 years ago, so it is with us. To break old habits, to admit I was wrong, requires chiseling away pride and ego from our hearts. That is why our tradition teaches us to take 40 days, the entire month of Elul, plus the 10 days between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, to really work on ourselves, to chisel away the rock that has formed around our hearts. The last word has not been spoken, the last sentence has not been written, the final verdict is not in. It is never too late to change my mind, my direction, to say no to the past, and yes to the future, to offer remorse, to ask and give forgiveness. It is never too late to start again, to feel again, to love again, to hope again…” It is never too late to turn a stone into light, to be a source of light to those around you. Karen, Carly, Elana, Michael and I want to wish you and your family a Shana Tova, a year of change and growth, a happy and sweet new year. Rabbi Harold Schulweis has written:


Rabbi Andrew Straus

*Rabbi Arthur Waskow, Ph.D., is the founder and director of The Shalom Center, and is the author and/or editor of about twenty books on U.S. public policy and on religious thought and practice.  He has been among the most influential teachers in the Jewish Renewal Movement, and a social justice activist his whole life. I have been influenced by, and recommend, his book Seasons of Our Joy .

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