Newspaper Archive of
Heritage Florida Jewish News
Fern Park , Florida
September 3, 2004     Heritage Florida Jewish News
PAGE 5     (5 of 48 available)        PREVIOUS     NEXT      Full Size Image
PAGE 5     (5 of 48 available)        PREVIOUS     NEXT      Full Size Image
September 3, 2004

Newspaper Archive of Heritage Florida Jewish News produced by SmallTownPapers, Inc.
Website © 2020. All content copyrighted. Copyright Information.     Terms Of Use.     Request Content Removal.

NEWS, SEPTEMBER 3, 2004 PAGE 5 C. Case zear- Y before Yom parents had synagogue, r.I for- went achair )of ithalf- it into my shouted, that!" Then I peel and put it -refrigerator. ' mother ered she nevel said think I felt that Was something s 121 won an es- rnYConservative riting that holiday Although one calculated fact begun to Holy Days. the lg or(my of t'shuvah), to me. So wanted my mother made me feelings stemsaltz ud (Yevamot a discussion one who his at- or Heaven. by the man who direct [to Earth] ]toward this debate practical sig- also reflects a much ,including a life and 'economic vi- subtle most of the g They which we as little as is to reach of our world difficult to t !Ilness, psy- natural much eco- the religions them do, that to the poor, ? to solve the poor, 'ng char- journey assures a radise. The about the High Holy Days have continued unabated through- out the 30 years of my inter- faith marriage. When Wen@ and I were dating she was always willing to attend High Holy Day serviceswith me. For a number of years we went to the Harvard Hillel services. In those days the services were held in Harvard University's Sanders Theatre, a not very comfortable or synagogue- like setting, but we were attracted by Rabbi Gold, an Orthodox rabbi whom we had consulted before our wedding. He had treated Wendy kindly and respectfully when he ad- vised her not to convert before we were married unless it was something that she wanted for herself. After we bought a house in the suburbs, we joined our neighborhood Reform synagogue when our daugh- ter was ready for religious school. At some point when our children were veryyoung, we developed our own High Holy Day custom. Traditional Jews observe tashlich on the afternoon of the first day of Rosh Hashanah--they go to a body of moving water and throw bread or stones into it, as a symbolic cast- ing away of sins. I had never performed that ritual before, but somehow we got started going to a neighborhood park on Yom Kippur afternoon and I~hrowing bread into the Charles River--though most of the bread was intercepted Arabic word for charity, for example, is zakkat--"merit"; that is, giving charity buys points of merit for the World to Come. This view crosses cultural boundaries. Thus, a country such as India, which has so many believers, also has ap- palling poverty, epidemics, and other calamities. Be- cause these people consider the important world to be the spiritual one, however, the suffering of the poor, the ill, and the homeless is of little concern. Eyes and heart to the world This is the modern West- ern conception, which is. essentially materialistic. This worldview regards this world as the only one of con- sequence: physically, visually, and emotionally. Its adherents not only live within the mate- rial world, but covet it as their principal goal. This approach has yielded many practical achievements: successful efforts to solve, or at least to improve, some of the world's major problems. Much ofhumanityis healthier and better fed now than at any time since the Garden of Eden. And people are living longer--even if they don't know what to do with their extended lives. In this materialistic world, "taking stock" refers only to money, to financial credits and debits; everything else is irrelevant. Where profits and losses are what matter, ap- parent expressions of care for others merely disguise selfish interests. The welfare policy of the capitalistic world, for instance, staves off rebellion, giving the poor just enough that they will not attack the rich. Similarly, highly devel- by hungry ducks before it even hit the water. We have clung to that custom "religiously" and every Yom Kippur afternoon, dressed in our finest suits and dresses (which must look very curiousto the families play- ing in the park), we feed the ducks/cast away our sins. My children, who are now 21 and 26, still insist that, as the person with most of the sins, I should throw in most of the bread. For Wen@ and me, Juda- ism is very much a matter of religion. We have experienced so many High Holy Days at this point that the rituals and customs of the holidays are familiar and comfortable to us as a couple. On Yore Kippur the Kol Nidre melody reminds us of all of those past years. We both fast and return to the synagogue for the afternoon Yizkor (memo- rial) and concluding services. We enjoy the opportunity for an extended quiet time of reflection. Each year I hate to see the day's "time-out" from daily routines come to an end. I think that our attitudes to- wards the High Holy Days have rubbed off on our children. Several years ago our daughter Emily spent a fall semester in New Zealand. She had to make a major effort to be in a syna- gogue for Yom Kippur--take a bus from the conservation project she was working on into Auckland, check into a youth hostel, have pizza for oped countries give some aid to underdeveloped ones, but less than they can and less than is needed. The result: unconscionable suffering, yes, but also an adequate supply of low-cost labor. Communism, paradoxi- cally, takes the same world- view as capitalism, If there is no world except this world, no enjoyment except the enjoyment of this world, and no meaning that transcends ourselves and our needs, why would one share what he has with others? And meanwhile, every- body's minds are so dulled by the mass media that they cannot really think about anything significant anyway. This woridview has no room for true compassion for those in distress. Eyes to earth, heart to Heaven The Talmud's conclusion is that we turn our eyes to earth, but our hearts to Heaven. Our eyes focus on earth, so that we see, and deal with, the world's problems and pains. At the same time, however, we turn our hearts to Heaven, not for practical reasons, but for our own betterment. Surely, God could have made a perfect, static world, but He did not. He created a dynamic world with lacunae of all kinds, lacunae that facilitate movement and change. And then, God en- trusted this world to Man: a completely improbable being whose Divine soul rests in the body of a gorilla. He created Man with both the capacity for greatness and the suscep- tibility to sin. Then he made him a partner, albeit a very junior partner, in Creation. From that moment, it became dinner alone, and then make her way to the Progressive synagogue to attend services. In a wonderful example of Jews taking care of other Jews, she was befriended by a couple who invited her to their home to break the fast and to stay the night; it turned out that one of the couple's children had been married by the rabbi of our own synagogue! When our son Adam was in Munich last fall, he too made his way to the Progressive synagogue, and was taken in by a young family. The Torah and Haftorah (a reading from the Book of Prophets that is linked to that week's Torah reading) portions on Yore Kippur morning year after year are for me the most inspiring expressions of Jew- ish values---from the Torah portion's command to "choose life" to the Haftorah portion's command "to unlock the shackles of injustice to share your bread with the hungry." And these readings have an interfaith theme--in Deu- teronomy 29:9-14, 30:11-20, Moses says that those who are about to enter into God's covenant and be established as apeople include everyone in the community, even the "strang- ers in your camp." I experience the themes of the liturgy of the day--which emphasize the Day of Judgment, self-evalu- ation and repentance, seeking forgiveness, ethical behavior, See "Case" on page 22 our responsibility to finish His work, to observe every aspect of our world, to take responsibility for its prob- lems, and--most of all--to care about one another. God does not want us to divert our eyes from sickness and poverty. Rather, He wants us to see them and act against them--not to earn "points" on a Heavenly slate, but be- cause Heaven tells us that this is our job. We may not be able to do everything, butwe must do something. This concept of "Eyes to Earth, Heart to Heaven," connects Heaven and earth, dream and reality, eternal ideals and tangible actions. In this season of intensified prayer, we must go beyond merely contemplating this idea. It has to become a guiding principle in the way we conduct our lives, emo- tionally and practically. We must develop the ability to think and care about exalted heavenly subjects, without neglecting their connection with reality, even when we cannot reach the heavenly ideal. When we do this in deed and in prayer, we are doing what we can to bring about a better year. Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, an author, "scholar, and social critic best known in the United States for his monumental translation and commentary on the Talmud, is the founder era worldwide network ofJew- ish educational institutions. His efforts are supported in America by the Aleph Soci- ety. His latest book release is Opening the Tanya: Discov- ering the Moral ~ Mystical Teachings of a Classic Work of Kabbalah, published by Jossey-Bass: Wiley. I I About the New Year of 5765 By Rabbi R.J. Adler We all make New Year's resolutions, and the other day, I found a message on how not to live and I would like to share it with you "I am often rushing or missing dinner, I am not putting my children to sleep, I do not get an oppor- tunity to be with my spouse or with myself, I am tired the next day from the long hours of the day before. Why am I doing this?" Here is my New Year's resolution, and we should all consider it: "If I had my life to live over again, I would fly more kites, smell more honey- suckle, pet more puppies, take more holidays, eat more apples, befriend more children, share more roses, take more walks, greet more sunrises, pray more expec- tantly; I would laugh more heartily, give more gener- ously, forgive more quickly and love more warmly." Prior to Rosh Hashanah, it is customary to evaluate the state of Jewish living. At a recent effort, Dr. Charles Liebman, Professor at Bar Ilan University in Tel Aviv, declared that he could classify three major types of Jews at this time. The "museum type," least in- volved, a Judaism for display and remembrance of the past only. The "submissive type," totally orthodox, observant, based on the totality of Torah. And the "interpretation type," who bases his Judaism on nego- tiation, logic, relevance, the Conservative approach. And now I would like to add, how about our future as Jews both here and in Israel? I hold that all of us agree that we Jews share our joint commitment to survive as Jews and that we have the power to guide our future. We are one people, we have a mission and we can fulfill God's will both in Israel and here in the USA. We require, however, basic unity, mutual respect, tol- erance, common concern and love. One thing we must not do--there is no standing still. As God said to Moses at the Sea of Reeds, tell the children of Israel that they shall go forward! In loyalty to God, Torah and Judaism, let us press on, walking together, toil- ing and growing together, ascending the hill of the Lord together. While I was thinking about this article, about .the New Year, I was look- ing for a fitting ending like a poem, applicable to the mood of our High Holidays. I believe I found it, except that I forgot the name of the author--who will forgive me on YomKippur. A Special Person There was a special person I always cared to know, for our lives would inter- mingle no matter where we'd go. He was always just a shadow or an image in my mind, era faint and hazy memory that life erased with time. After many years of won- dering, a decision came my way, for I knew I'd have to meet him and the time would be today. without further hesitation, not knowing what I would see, I looked into life's mirror and met, who else but me! No longer was I lonely, for I liked what I had found, and began to open up to life, not with words, man's empty sounds But with action I pursued to express my inner self, with the people I encoun- tered, gaining love, a natu- ral wealth.