Tuesday, May 23, 2017

What “Intermarriage” Means

June will mark fifty years since the landmark Supreme Court decision, “Loving v. Virginia,” which legalized interracial marriage across the land. Until this ruling, interracial marriages were forbidden in many states. To mark this anniversary, Pew just released a new poll, entitled, auspiciously, “Intermarriage in the US 50 Years after “Loving v. Virginia.” The results are dramatic and eye-opening, though not entirely surprising, given shifting societal norms, especially among Millennials. In 2015, no fewer than seventeen percent of newlyweds were married to someone of a different ethnic or racial group, up from three percent in 1967.
Jews are not singled out in the survey, nor are other religious groups. But if Jewish views on interracial or inter-ethnic marriage were measured, no doubt the opposition would be very low, even among those who oppose interfaith marriage. After all, Jews come in all colors and ethnic backgrounds, and increasingly so. So “intermarriage,” as Pew defines it in this survey, is something that even traditional Jews can, would and perhaps should — welcome. It has nothing to do with interfaith marriage, which many Jews oppose.
But the term that is used, “intermarriage,” is the same as the one that Jews usually employ regarding interfaith marriage, which highlights why this subject has become so fraught with danger and confusion. What for some is a matter of religious conviction is for another, perhaps using a different shading of the term, a matter of discrimination and even racism.
There is no easy way to eliminate that confusion, because it has been internalized by many Jews. The opposition to all forms of prejudice cannot easily be gerrymandered to include some forms of perceived prejudice and not others, especially at a time when a dramatically growing percentage of people think that intermarriage (meaning interracial and inter-ethnic) is good for society. Rabbis and other Jewish leaders can promote endogamy (a word that only Jewish professionals use, meaning Jewish-Jewish marriage) until the kosher cows come home, but what most Jews will hear will be very different from what we are trying to communicate.
I personally celebrate what “Loving v. Virginia” has brought about, including its role as a precursor and precedent for the legalization of same sex marriage.
I also recognize that the proliferation of interfaith marriage is an inevitable byproduct of the successful integration of Jews into American society combined with the social forces confirmed by this Pew survey. There is also ample evidence that interfaith marriage is no longer the threat to the Jewish continuity that prior generations thought it to be.
While there are also solid arguments that can be made for encouraging Jews to seek other Jews, I prefer to avoid what has become a minefield of confused terminology. Instead, my focus has been to promote the value (and values) of growing Jewish families, and with it an authentic, vibrant Jewish community nurturing each of those families, no matter what the background of individuals within those families.
Jews have reached the post “gevalt” stage of our assimilation into the American mainstream. Rather than moaning about what we are losing, we need to capitalize on the new energy that diversity is bringing into American Jewry. I see examples of that all the time. Rather than railing against windmills, we need to turn, spread our wings, and let these winds of change take us to new and higher places.
As I remarked last fall in a High Holiday sermon about racism, we Jews can bridge the gaps between people, because of our unique position of having experienced prejudice from both sides of the divide. We can bring people together. We need to set an example of how to reach out to those who are different. We can’t allow wedges to divide groups today.
And we can’t allow confusion about terminology to cloud a message that is, in my mind, as essential to the furtherance of the Jewish mission as any demographic trend, a message central to our role as Jews in this dramatically changing world. We need to love what Loving did and, without losing our uniqueness, embrace the possibilities of a new era of radical inclusivity.
https://medium.com/@joshuahct/what-intermarriage-means-a64f9ad7b5d3

Friday, May 19, 2017

Shabbat-O-Gram for May 20

The Shabbat Announcements are sponsored by
Catherine and Craig Giventer in honor of their daughter, Julia, becoming a Bat Mitzvah.

Shabbat shalom!
 
Mazal tov to Julia Giventer and family on Julia's becoming Bat Mitzvah this Shabbat morning.  Tonight at our 7:30 Kabbalat Shabbat service coming just a few days before Jerusalem Day (next Wednesday on the Hebrew calendar), and the 50th anniversary of the reunification of the city during the Six Day War, we'll hear reflections on Jerusalem by some modern Israeli poets.
 
Attention College Students and High School Seniors
 
On Friday, June 9, we will be honoring our graduating 12th graders with a special blessing (and a gift) and also awarding our Men's Club Scholarships.  Additionally, I am inviting our TBE college students to return that night, particularly those who have been on Birthright Israel or wish to share campus experiences regarding Israel.  This conversation during our Kabbalat Shabbat service will be invaluable to high schoolers preparing to head to college campuses in the fall.  Any college student or high school senior who can make it that night is asked to RSVP at this Doodle site
 
 
Jerusalem Day, 50 years later...

 
 
The air over Jerusalem is saturated with prayers
and dreams
like the air over industrial cities.
It's hard to breathe.                           - Yehuda Amichai
 
Yesterday, men and women joined together in the upper plaza of the Kotel and led an egalitarian service that included reading from our own Torah scrolls Read the news account here.  
 
This unauthorized service gave a glimpse of what it could be like if the Kotel could truly be a place of unity for the Jewish people and Jerusalem's promise realized as a city of peace for all humanity.  This auspicious jubilee anniversary is being marked in myriad ways as we traverse the political map.  
 
On the right, we've got CAMERA's Six Day War website, filled with historical resources, along with the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs' site.  See also the Six Day War Project, which provides a series of videos with a day by day recap of what happened and what it meant.  For big newspaper fans like me, this site has newspaper front pages and major stories from those fateful days in June.  In this L'Chayim interview marking the war's 40th anniversary, about seven minutes in, you can see my personal reflections on how 1967 changed my life.
 
Meanwhile, the miracle of Israel's victory, given the threats of annihilation against it, must be weighed against the complexity of the 50 years that have passed.  American Jewry's literary power couple, Ayelet Waldman and Michael Chabon have just published an anthology called Kingdom of Olives and Ash: Writers Confront the Occupation. The book will undoubtedly raise eyebrows because of its association with the controversial group "Breaking the Silence."  Yossi Klein Halevi presents a balanced and thoughtful essay on the jubilee in the current issue of Sh'ma; incidentally, the whole idea of jubilee originated in this week's Torah portion. And finally, see the material collected by T'ruah: the Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, on Yovel: Fifty Years of Occupation, featuring texts, essays and videos.
 
 
Clash of Civil-ization: The Leviticus Project
 
  
 
"An Alphabet for World Peace," by Debi Strong.  The red thread that winds throughout the piece is a symbol from Chinese mythology wherein an invisible red thread connects a newborn baby to all the people who will become significant in its life. As the child grows, the threads shorten in length to bring those people closer together (she discovered this story when she and her husband adopted their younger daughter, as a 10-month-old baby, from China in 1999).  
 
This week's double portion concludes the book of Leviticus, which lays out a road map toward building a civil society.  At the center of it all is the Golden Rule, "Love your neighbor as yourself."  This portion speaks of how we should not wrong one another (Lev. 25:14), which the rabbis tied to how we use our words.  We should communicate with honesty, gentleness, compassion and empathy. An explanation of the halachic concept of "Hurtful Words" (Ona'at Devarim) can be found here, and more comprehensively here.   Yes, Leviticus has lots of confusing and even questionable laws, but the thrust of the entire book is to forge a more civilized and kind society.
 
That is the central message of virtually all world religions, though the implementation differs from faith to faith and place to place.  If there is a religious "clash of civilizations," I would assert that the clash is not between religions but rather between those within each religious group who subscribe to what one might call the Leviticus Project, and those who do not.
 
In 2008 the well known religion writer Karen Armstrong devised something called the Charter for Compassion, a document designed to enshrine the ideals of the Golden Rule in our world.  As more and more have signed on to this charter (including, BTW, me), it has become an international movement.  Nothing could be more timely.  

Here is what it states:
 
The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated ourselves. Compassion impels us to work tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of our fellow creatures, to dethrone ourselves from the centre of our world and put another there, and to honour the inviolable sanctity of every single human being, treating everybody, without exception, with absolute justice, equity and respect.
 
It is also necessary in both public and private life to refrain consistently and empathically from inflicting pain. To act or speak violently out of spite, chauvinism, or self-interest, to impoverish, exploit or deny basic rights to anybody, and to incite hatred by denigrating others-even our enemies-is a denial of our common humanity. We acknowledge that we have failed to live compassionately and that some have even increased the sum of human misery in the name of religion.
 
We therefore call upon all men and women to restore compassion to the centre of morality and religion ~ to return to the ancient principle that any interpretation of scripture that breeds violence, hatred or disdain is illegitimate ~ to ensure that youth are given accurate and respectful information about other traditions, religions and cultures ~ to encourage a positive appreciation of cultural and religious diversity ~ to cultivate an informed empathy with the suffering of all human beings-even those regarded as enemies.
 
We urgently need to make compassion a clear, luminous and dynamic force in our polarized world. Rooted in a principled determination to transcend selfishness, compassion can break down political, dogmatic, ideological and religious boundaries. Born of our deep interdependence, compassion is essential to human relationships and to a fulfilled humanity.
 
It is the path to enlightenment, and indispensable to the creation of a just economy and a peaceful global community.
 
 
 
What "Intermarriage" Means

    

June will mark another jubilee commemoration, fifty years since the landmark Supreme Court decision, "Loving v. Virginia," which legalized interracial marriage across the land.  Until this ruling, interracial marriages were forbidden in many states. To mark this anniversary, Pew just released a new poll, entitled, auspiciously, "Intermarriage in the US 50 Years after "Loving v. Virginia." The results are dramatic and eye-opening, though not entirely surprising, given shifting societal norms, especially among Millennials. In 2015, no fewer than seventeen percent of newlyweds were married to someone of a different ethnic or racial group, up from three percent in 1967.  

 
Jews are not singled out in the survey, nor are other religious groups.  But if Jewish views on interracial or inter-ethnic marriage were measured, no doubt the opposition would be very low, even among those who oppose interfaith marriage.  After all, Jews come in all colors and ethnic backgrounds, and increasingly so.  So "intermarriage," as Pew defines it in this survey, is something that even traditional Jews can, would and perhaps should - welcome. It has nothing to do with interfaith marriage, which many Jews oppose.
 
But the term that is used, "intermarriage," is the same as the one that Jews usually employ regarding interfaith marriage, which highlights why this subject has become so fraught with danger and confusion.  What for some is a matter of religious conviction is for another, perhaps using a different shading of the term, a matter of discrimination and even racism. 
 
There is no easy way to eliminate that confusion, because it has been internalized by many Jews.  The opposition to all forms of prejudice cannot easily be gerrymandered to include some forms of perceived prejudice and not others, especially at a time when a dramatically growing percentage of people think that intermarriage (meaning interracial and inter-ethnic) is good for society.  Rabbis and other Jewish leaders can promote endogamy (a word that only Jewish professionals use, meaning Jewish-Jewish marriage) until the kosher cows come home, but what most Jews will hear will be very different from what we are trying to communicate.
 
I personally celebrate what "Loving v. Virginia" has brought about, including its role as a precursor and precedent for the legalization of same sex marriage.
 
I also recognize that the proliferation of interfaith marriage is an inevitable byproduct of the successful integration of Jews into American society combined with the social forces confirmed by this Pew survey.  There is also ample evidence that interfaith marriage is no longer the threat to the Jewish continuity that prior generations thought it to be.
 
While there are also solid arguments that can be made for encouraging Jews to seek other Jews, I prefer to avoid what has become a minefield of confused terminology.  Instead, my focus - and the focus of TBE - has been to promote the value (and values) of growing Jewish families, and with it an authentic, vibrant Jewish community nurturing each of those families, no matter what the background of individuals within those families.  
 
We have reached the post-"gevalt" stage of our assimilation into the American mainstream.  Rather than moaning about what we are losing, we need to capitalize on the new energy that diversity is bringing into American Jewry.  I see examples of that all the time.  Rather than railing against windmills, we need to turn, spread our wings, and let these winds of change take us to new and higher places.
 
As I said from the pulpit in my sermon about racism on Rosh Hashanah, we Jews can bridge the gaps between people, because of our unique position of having experienced prejudice from both sides of the divide.  We can bring people together.  We need to set an example of how to reach out to those who are different.  We can't allow wedges to divide groups today.   

And we can't allow confusion about terminology to cloud a message that is, in my mind, as essential to the furtherance of the Jewish mission as any demographic trend.
 
That message is so central to our role as Jews in this dramatically changing world.  We need to love what Loving did and embrace the possibilities of a new era of inclusivity.
 
 
 
Shavuot @ Sinai: The Jewish World in 2050
 
As we look back at the giving of the Torah many centuries ago, on the first night of Shavuot, Tuesday May 30, we'll join with our friends from Temple Sinai at 8:00 to look ahead as well.  We'll imagine what the Jewish world - in particular American Jewry - will look like in 2050.
 
With meditative music, discussion and a heaping helping of cheesecake, we'll look at current trends and envision future ones, particularly in these four areas:
  • Communal institutions
  • Prayer/spirituality
  • Diaspora/Israel
  • Identity/intermarriage. 
Though not a prerequisite to attending, we recommend that you take a look at these two resources beforehand: 
 
So join us at Temple Sinai on May 30 @ 8:00 PM

Thursday, May 18, 2017

TBE Bar/Bat Mitzvah Commentary: Julia Giventer on Behar-Behukotai


        Hello and Shabbat Shalom!

      The theme of my speech is perseverance and strength

        You may notice that I look a little different from your typical Bat Mitzvah. Unfortunately. I was trying to coordinate my cast with my dress, and while its not a perfect match, this color is still perfect for Spring! Everyone should get a cast. It is in Vogue this season.

         As I believe most of you know, I broke my elbow and was required to have surgery. But one positive thing came out of it. I was able to pick all of the colors of my casts. Of my 6 different colored casts, I think the purple one was my favorite. Just my personal recommendation.

          In spite of this cast, I feel grateful to be here today in front of my family and friends.  I would thank my parents, the Rabbi, the Cantor, the teachers and Nurit, of course.

        My Bat Mitzvah has been a very long process of training.  The last few weeks have been very busy with preparations for this event, and as you can see I have been quite limited in what I can do, but this has not stopped me from being here for today.  If anything, I was kind of “stuck” in one place!

         I know how blessed I am, and there many others who are not as fortunate as me. Many of these people live in this area.   

     A “mitzvah” means a good deed to help others, and my “Mitzvah” project is to donate to the “Food Bank of Lower Fairfield County”.  I feel terrible that 1 in 5 children in Fairfield county are either food insecure or are hungry. Ironically, my parsha talks about great misfortune.
        
      What have I learned from this experience, you ask? 
        
      Perseverance is key to overcoming misfortune.
      
       In my Parsha, the land is harvested every 6 years and rests one year. As we are all here on the 7th day of the week, Shabbat, the day of rest and reflection.     

    
    MAYBE MY ACCIDENT HAS GIVEN ME THE CHANCE TO TAKE A STEP BACK AND APPRECIATE ALL I HAVE, MUCH AS THE SHABBAT AND SABBATICAL YEAR ARE INTENDED TO ACCOMPLISH.  

          The end of this Parsha is also the end of the book of Leviticus. 

  
             It is customary when we finish a book of the Torah to say “Chazak, chazak, v'nitchazek” which means – “Be strong, be strong, and may we be strengthened!”

       
            And so I leave you all with these same words as go through your life “Be strong, be strong, and may we all be strengthened”.                                                     
        
      Let us say “AMEN”                                                                                                                                                           

Friday, May 12, 2017

Shabbat-O-Gram for May 19


 Shabbat-O-Gram


 The Shabbat Announcements are sponsored by

Nancy and Jeffrey Herz in honor of their daughter, Mollie,
becoming Bat Mitzvah.

Shabbat Shalom.



Coming off of our wonderful Mediterranean Shabbat last week, the beat goes on tonight at 7:30, as we celebrate Lag B'Omer and Mother's Day weekend.  Mazal tov to Mollie Herz, who becomes Bat Mitzvah here this Shabbat. 

Click here to read last Shabbat's Bar Mitzvah d'var Torah by Brandon Shapiro.  And as our 8th graders prepare to graduate, we recently celebrated our final B'nai Mitzvah for that class.  In their honor, I've compiled highlights of the speeches of this past year's b'nai mitzvah class (which includes our 8th graders and a few others).  Reading them in rapid fire succession gives us a greater appreciation of both the timeliness and timelessness of their wise commentary. Click here to see the excerpts.
Sunday is Lag B'Omer AND Mother's Day, a double celebration.
How to be a Jewish Mother's Child

 

Back in the 1960's Dan Greenberg's book, "How to be a Jewish Mother" perfectly embodied the spirit of Jewish humor (read: guilt) of the "Portnoy's Complaint" era.  It was the best selling nonfiction book in the U.S. in 1965, capturing the national zeitgeist at a time when "Fiddler" was also taking Broadway by storm.  You can read Greenberg's entire book online, and learn the secrets to a Jewish mother's success, like how to make guilt work:

Underlying all techniques of Jewish Motherhood is the ability to plant, cultivate and harvest guilt. Control guilt and you control the child. An old folk saw says: "Beat a child every day; if you don't know what he's done to deserve the beating, he will."

A slight modification gives us the Jewish Mother's Cardinal Rule:

"Let your child hear you sigh every day; if you don't know what he's done to make you suffer,  he will."

Once you've mastered that, you are ready to move on to the "Technique of Basic Suffering."

To master the Technique of Basic Suffering you should begin with an intensive study of the Dristan commercials on television. Pay particular attention to the face of the actor who has not yet taken Dristan. Note the squint of the eyes, the furrow of the brow, the downward curve of the lips-the pained expression which can only come from eight undrained sinus cavities or severe gastritis. This is the Basic Facial Expression. Learn it well. Practice it before a mirror several times a day. If someone should catch you at it and ask what you are doing, say:

"I'm fine, it's nothing at all, it will go away."

This should be said softly but audibly, should imply suffering without expressing it openly. When properly executed, this is the Basic Tone of Voice.

The book is still very funny, in part because ethnic stereotypes like the Jewish mother are making a comeback, even though Jewish mothers have long since stopped being "Jewish mothers," and all the guilt that came with the rapid assimilation of that post-immigrant generation has long since melted away.  We have plunged fully into the Melting Pot, but nostalgia is a powerful thing.

Mother's Day brings out some far more serious lessons that derive far more deeply from our Jewish cultural heritage. The rabbis spoke of a man named Dama, a serious one-percenter, from the Roman upper class, a jeweler who wore a gold-embroidered cloak and kowtowed with the glitterati.  Despite all this, the rabbis held him up as a paragon of piety in one respect - how he honored his parents.

In one story, a precious stone has disappeared from the High Priest's breastplate in Jerusalem. So a Jew comes to Dama seeking a replacement.  Dama goes in the back room, but his father is sleeping right on top of the key that would open the safe, so he tells the man that he can't sell him any jewelry today.  When his father wakes up and hears what has happened, he gets angry at his son for not making a profit.  His son responds, "I am not prepared to disobey the command to honor one's parents for any money in the world."  A week later, the price of gems rises, and Dama sells the needed jewel at a greater profit than he would have made the week before - a happy ending for everyone.

In another midrash, Dama's mother, evidently peeved that her son didn't go to medical school, rips off his gaudy garment and spits in his face.  Despite this, Dama does not shame her, instead referring back to the Torah's command to honor one's parents.

The word for "honor" "kabed" is nearly identical to the word "kaved," which connotes a heavy burden.  It's not always easy to honor our parents.

As Mother's Day approaches, my mom, 93, is in a nursing home, struggling to live a life of dignity, despite the ravages of Parkinsons and related afflictions that have robbed her of much of her ability to communicate.  Although her memory remains relatively sharp - or maybe because of that fact- there is very little that brings her joy at this stage.  A lifelong pianist, her tremors forced her to give up piano a few years ago.  The burden of filling her days with meaning only increases for both of us, and I now can say that I completely understand what the fourth commandment meant to convey.  To honor a parent really is to bear her, to hold her up, just as she once bore me, smiling despite the piercing pain.  We bear our elders just inches from the earth to which they - and we - will return, and we do it not our of guilt but a profound gratitude.

So kids, I'm not asking you to love your elders. You don't even have to honor us, strictly speaking.  The Torah makes it clear: all you need to do is bear the burden of us.  Hold us up when we stumble, as we invariably do.  Our lectures may be onerous, our use of technology embarrassing and our ideas archaic.  But though we may fumble with Facebook from time to time, we do have some wisdom to share.

There are real dangers out there and enormous challenges that we need to face, which have only increased this week, and right now the only way to face them is together.

That's why need Mother's Day.

Crosby Hammerman, 2002-2016

 

Geriatric humans aren't the only ones whose burdens need bearing.  Our dog Crosby, who was nearly 15 years old, a real old timer in dog years, died last Sunday, after several months of suffering from cancer.   We kept him alive for as long as he was able to garner at least a smidgen of joy, and as long as he could enjoy the dignity of doing basic things like eating, walking and breathing.

My family sincerely appreciates the overwhelming support we've received this week.  This congregation was a big part of Crosby's life, although he entered the temple building only once.  He used to stand guard at the edges of our driveway, saluting those who ventured across to the cemetery or who stopped at the shed for vegetables during CSA season.   He was gentle and affectionate and could have been a true therapy dog.  He would rub up against you and let you pet him for hours on end without moving an inch. No wonder his vet once called him "the Mayor,"  Crosby loved to walk along the edges of the backyard and look out into the woods - his heart was always directed outward.

 
A true mensch-pup, Crosby reveled in Jewish traditions.  In the fall, he listened attentively to the shofar (and at times would howl in response) and he and sister Chloe loved to play a little game we called "Sukkah!"   He loved Hanukkah as well, but for Croz, no Jewish ritual meant more than candlelighting on Friday night, because when we came together for that blessing, hallah was on the way.  During his final weeks, when his palate became extremely picky, hallah literally kept him alive.  It was to him like mannah from heaven.
 

Crosby also once played the role of Tzeitel in "Fiddler on the Roof."
 

And he was the cover boy of our Blessing of the Animals booklet one year (a lovely pet-portrait by Susan Darer z'l), and the featured profile in another.


But no Jewish moment meant more to him than his Bark Mitzvah on Sukkot of 2015.  He entertained a number of new friends and they were all blessed together.  I don't think he was ever happier than he was on that day.  You can see our "hakafa" procession here.

    
He and Chloe were inseparable from the moment she came home when he was two.  She was clearly the "alpha" but he was OK with that, even as she nagged him relentlessly when he delayed coming back into the house.  Although they were only distantly related (he was her great uncle), they seemed to communicate in a language that only they understood.

  
 
 


Crosby saw us through times both trying and joyous.  He loved the snow (though not as much as Chloe) and was the first to check out the damage during one of our various storm-pocalypses.   

     

 
We call this the "I Am Legend" photo.  Crosby would have done well even in a dystopia

His final few months were punctuated by a rare and particularly cruel form of cancer, making it hard for him to do all the things that had given him such pleasure; his jaunts to the edge of the woods to scout for squirrels and deer and  his whiny salutes to pedestrians from the back of the car. When even breathing became laborious and the few steps from our door to the front lawn impossible to traverse, we knew his time had come.

Cosby's years had a typically condensed canine trajectory, but he might well be remembered long after all his favorite humans have left this earth.  His disease was so rare that his case is being closely examined and, quite possibly, Crosby could achieve immortality in veterinary textbooks. 

He had a rare form of testicular cancer.  Why so rare?  Well, Crosby had no testicles.  He was neutered while still a pup.  Yet somehow, a microscopic residue remained, enough to wreak havoc on his body fourteen years later.  Just his luck, Crosby was killed by sex without ever having the pleasure even of humping a single armchair.  Life is so unfair.

The potential for immortality (and the potential to save other lives) brings some comfort, but textbooks don't cuddle on the couch or nuzzle up to you for an extra piece of hallah.  For her part, Chloe is handling her doggie grief in her own way and she is being showered in affection - including a new toy brought over by a particularly compassionate congregant.  Thank you all. 

And Chloe turns 13 this fall, so stay tuned.  Another Hammerman Bark Mitzvah could be on the way.

I've always felt that the loss of a pet, while not on a par with human loss, needs to be treated more substantively by our religious traditions, because grief is not something that can easily be measured.  Nor can it be relegated to private moments. I found myself choking up when leading the mourners Kaddish this week. I wasn't saying Kaddish for my dog, but neither could I turn off the thought of him wagging and barking at that moment.  The pain of loss is amplified by a bond of trust that is tested so severely when caring for such an innocent life, one so dependent and dependable, so loving and loyal. 


Martin Buber, the great religious philosopher, spoke of relationships being either "I-It," or "I-Thou."  An I-it relationship is when we treat others as things, valuing them for their utility.  "I-Thou" relationships occur when we truly encounter and embrace others.   This profound contact gives us a glimpse of God.  God is experienced, according to Buber, only in relationship, in the love expressed not in one being or another, but between them.  

One of Buber's first 1-Thou encounters was with a dapple-grey horse.   As a child, he stroked its neck and mane and an overwhelming sense of connection flowed between the boy and the horse.  The horse was no longer a stranger, or an other; it had become a Thou.  This idea is expressed also in the children's classic, "The Little Prince."

The fox gazed at the little prince, for a long time.

"Please--tame me!" he said.

"I want to, very much," the little prince replied. "But I have not much time. I have friends to discover, and a great many things to understand."

"One only understands the things that one tames," said the fox. "Men have no more time to understand anything. They buy things all ready made at the shops. But there is no shop anywhere where one can buy friendship, and so men have no friends any more. If you want a friend, tame me . . ."  


No doubt about it, Crosby tamed me.

Rabbi Naomi Levy wrote this prayer, which I have often shared with congregants grieving from pet loss.

--------------------------

A Prayer When a Beloved Pet Dies
You were my good friend. We never had a single conversation, but we understood each other.  I till keep thinking you'll be there waiting for me when I open the door.  The house is empty without you.  I miss you more than others could ever understand.
I thank you for being my companion in times of joy, and my comfort in times of pain.  I was fortunate to have you in my life and I know your life with me was a happy one.
I will remember you with joy and a smile.  May God bless you.  Amen.

------------------
One of our TBE family sent me the following cartoon this week.  It's a real tear jerker, but I hope it might bring comfort to the many among us who have been in this same position as my family has experienced this week.
 
Shabbat Shalom, and thank you, Crosby.

Rabbi Joshua Hammerman