8 Elul 5783/August 25, 2023 & 9 Elul 5783/August 26, 2023
8 Elul 5783/August 25, 2023
by Rabbi Michael Birnholz
At a recent community meeting to respond to a local act of anti-Semitism, one of the participants shared his favorite story (1) about hope in a dark time. It was a story I had heard but this retelling was so powerful as it drew this community together. As I heard the story and felt the power of the group being engaged, I thought of one of my favorite stories (2) and the feeling of sharing it with a collection of people.
As this year comes to an end, and we are preparing for the new year, these acts of storytelling call to me as I witness so many examples of people using their voice and the stories they tell to divide us and harm other humans and communities.
Even as I search for ways to stop those who will tear down those around them, I find myself looking for the stories and the gatherings of sharing and listening that can be a counter for the darkness and cruelty.
In this new year, with kavanah/intention, make an effort to look for and share stories that can bring people together in unity. May we take time to listen in partnership and community as others also share stories with us. Let us, each in our own way invest energy to tell the stories that speak to us so we can inspire and empower others.
9 Elul 5783/August 26, 2023
You CAN change who you are
by Rabbi Alan Litwak
I am 55 56 years old
is a very different assertion than
I am a Democrat.
In the first statement, there’s not a lot you can do about your “am”. It is an unambiguous factual description of something over which you have no control.
In the second, it describes an option. Anyone who wants to vote a certain way instantly becomes associated with a political party for as long as they make that choice.
The “am” that we think of as enduring and irreversible might actually be a choice, repeated again and again. And, if we recognise it as a choice, then we can make a different choice and change who we are.
It is worth reflecting on Anaïs Nin’s idea that "We do not see things as they are. We see things as we are."