Whole Life Magazine

December 2018 / January 2019

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December 2018/January 2019 13 spirit The rose-colored glasses are off. The realities that we face every day when we turn on the news are enough to provoke cynicism and despair for even an optimist. As a rabbi, I am often asked, "How can I believe in God when hatred is so rampant? How can I continue to pray when I don't see it resulting in a better world? All I see is unnecessary violence and chaos all around me." What can I say to my congregant, a wonderful man, a philanthropist, and a man of integrity and faith, who says, "Rabbi, I have prayed all my life, I am 80 years old, and I put my faith in people and counted on the hope of the future generations. What has happened to this world that I am leaving to my grandchildren?" What can I say as his rabbi? I can first LISTEN, then say, "Yes, sadly, what you are saying is true and it is hard to sit by and watch what is happening." I will not sugar coat the reality of recent events that have made us all feel bleak. Hatred leaves a bitter chill that we all feel in our bones. But I can also say that we must remember that the human story is not over yet. So, I say boldly to him, "Yes, feel it all and let's talk about it, and not diminish its severity. But let's not stay there." When we are ready, we can spend some time focusing on what is good. That to me is Godliness. We can collectively focus on what is still good and salvageable, for example, the compassion and beauty that people are showing one another in times of disaster like they did during the California fires. Let's build on the glimmers of good and dream about what we can adjust to make things better. This type of thinking will help us find our resilience and fulfill the true mission of the human spirit – giving. This is where I find my hope in humanity lately. Believers in God, clergy, and spiritual leaders cry too and feel the gnawing despair. Especially when we talk to you, and cry with you. At the same time, I draw strength from seeing people work through life circumstances, mustering courage when none was there the day before. Leading ceremonies of B'nai Mitzvot, weekly prayer services, funerals, baby namings, and weddings reminds me of the bigger human story. On the very day of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, I was officiating at a B'nai Mitzvah and on the other side of the city, a wedding. I did not find out about the tragedy that my colleague and friend endured in Pittsburgh until late that evening as I lay exhausted at home. I had many messages to answer and I fell asleep. The next morning as I took in the news, I received a thoughtful note from the bride and groom thanking me for being there. The bride told me that what resonated in her head were my closing words before the traditional breaking of the glass. It comforted me to re-read them: "Before the groom kisses the bride, there is a tradition of breaking a glass. When couples marry, even though the ceremony is for them, it is considered a mitzvah, because it sends a ripple effect into the world of hope. You see, when you break the glass before you kiss, it is a symbol to remember that there is brokenness in the world, but that there is also the ability to create wholeness through the sacred vows of marriage." All year long, we can find peace and hope by GIVING to people we love. Consider three forms that demand the greatest power from the heart: Rabbi/Cantor Judy Greenfeld is the founder and spiritual leader of Nachshon Minyan in Encino. Visit www.nachshonminyan.org. Staying Peaceful and Hopeful IN CRISIS AND UNCERTAINTY By Rabbi Judy Greenfeld 1 For...giving, letting go of old hurts and resentments 2 Thanks...giving, making lasting connections by telling others how grateful you are for them 3 Life...giving, giving back, helping others, and listening there. The bride told what resonated were my words before the breaking of comforted re-read them: the groom kisses there is a breaking a When couples though the is for them, considered a because ripple the hope. when the before remember is in but that also the ability

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