In this video, there are three stories from my recent Caribbean vacation, which include a conversation with a waiter about peace between Israelis and Palestinians, feeling unwelcome in a synagogue, and connecting with a stranger from India.
Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called “Chutzpah Dating.”It used to be that young men and women went on dates and generally treated each other respectfully and civilly as they explored whether there was a spark between them and potentially a match to be made. But somewhere along the lines, too many Prince Charmings have turned into real ugly toads.
If some “religious” people do the wrong thing, disrespect their fellow Jews, hate on them, curse them, defile their prayers, that doesn’t mean they are really religious. Rather to the contrary — they are the irreligious religious!
Clearly, the mobile sanctuary and later the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and now our synagogues are “Houses of G-d,” where we go to pray, learn Torah, and worship Him, and where He resides among us. Sure, G-d is everywhere, but the synagogue/Temple is a unique, special, and spiritual place where we as community dedicate ourselves to G-d and worship Him. It should go without saying that the synagogue is not a place for petty politics, protests, or other antics.
As Jews, we are supposed to make a “Kiddush Hashem” (sanctification of G-d’s name) and not Chillul Hashem (desecration of G-d), and so my hope and prayer is that people in this synagogue and in every synagogue, can “let go” and instead “let G-d.”
(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal, Image for Illustration Only)
And what happens to us after creation? Life happens, and people suffer from the happenstance and the often harsh “nurture” of this world. Whether from disease, accidents, or hurt inflicted on us from others — intentional or not — we all have “disabilities” and as difficult as it is to live with it, there is no shame in it!
Disabilities are an opportunity, however painful and humiliating for us to learn and grow and for others to be able to demonstrate love, compassion, and kindness to us…There is no running or hiding from disability, it is part of our mortal world. But from the scars and suffering of life, we must create healing. From disability, it is our job to turn it into ability, capability, and mobility!
We are all reeling from the devastating deaths of 45 Jews on Lag B’Omer at Mount Meron (and many others critically injured) from a stampede during the bonfire celebration near the grave of the holy Kabbalist, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai. Last night, we were glued to the new as the body count kept going up. I couldn’t help thinking to myself that this is something that happens in the masses of people that gather in India or Saudi Arabia, not in the tiny State of Israel. But lo’ and behold, tragedy can strike anywhere, anytime. Life is completely tenuous!
So can we draw conclusions that in those days there was baseless hate and so too in our times. I think, while we don’t know G-d’s ways, certainly from experience and observation, we do know that there is not only baseless hate, but also plenty of “hate the baseless”. And what I mean by that is that one type of Jew thinks they are better than another whose beliefs, faith, and observance we denigrate and deem baseless, without support and they without real merit…We are forever driven towards a “Better than thou” attitude and lifestyle. To the religious catcalls of “get out of our neighborhood slut” or the throwing of Shabbat rocks at passing cars. This all has got to stop! (Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)