Showing posts with label tragedy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tragedy. Show all posts

Thursday, December 7, 2023

How can we celebrate in the midst of this (or any) tragedy?

We are all looking for ways to cope and ways to help. I have found a few and am looking for more. Focusing on my own emotional and spiritual health, it seems to me I need to start writing again. I hope it invites some of you to engage in conversation - perhaps with me, if not with one another. I wrote this for the Temple Bulletin last week and thought it might make a good start. Chag Urim Sameach!

The library at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York has some amazing books and artifacts. On a visit many years ago with a group of educators from the CAJE Conference, librarian David Kraemer passed around a brick of lucite. Inside was a very old document. It was one of several dozen handwritten copies of a letter from, and signed by, Rambam (also known as Maimonides), arguably the greatest authority on Jewish law in history.

The letters were sent to Jewish communities throughout the 12th century Western world, asking Jews to send money which would be used to ransom the Jewish community of Jerusalem. They were being held captive by either the Crusaders or the Saracens – I cannot remember.

Pidyon Sh’vuyim – Redeeming Captives – is, according to the rabbis of the Talmud as well as Rambam, the greatest of mitzvot (commandments). It is even more important than clothing and feeding the poor.

It is outrageous that in our celebrated modernity, redeeming captives is still something that is needed anywhere. We are a week away from the beginning of Chanukah. It should be a time of celebration, lighting candles, spinning dreidels, and overeating things fried in oil like latkes and sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts).

And we will.

It may feel strange to you, as it does to me, to plan a celebration while watching the news feed each day waiting for the next ten hostages to be released. I hope that by the time you read this, those releases are still happening.

The Jewish year continues to happen, no matter what else is going on in the world. Chanukah will begin on the 25th day of the month Kislev (the evening of December 7), like it does every year.

Even in the darkest times of Roman persecution, the Inquisition, and even the Holocaust, our ancestors often found ways to mark the festivals and holy days. And many Israelis are making sure to celebrate important lifecycle moments, if they are able – even with the war going on.

So, I urge you to celebrate Chanukah. Keep the captives and the civilians in your hearts and minds. Even talk about them as you spin the dreidel, or after you sing Ma’oz Tzur, if that works in your home.

There are resources for talking about the situation with children here. Remember that one of the things we celebrate at Chanukah is Jewish autonomy and freedom. Let’s celebrate on behalf of those who cannot.

Let’s gather in prayer and a festive meal on December 8 for Shabbat Chanukah (please make reservations TODAY if you have not yet done so – click this link!). Make donations toMagen David Adom or through the Jewish Federation.

Our joy may be diminished, but Chanukah teaches that we must bring light into times and places that are dark. I hope to see you over the holiday!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Jon Stewart's Moving Monologue
on the Arizona Shooting

This review by Lindsey Compton of Jon Stewart's response to the shooting of Representative Gabriel Giffords and 18 others appeared in Celebrity Cafe. My thanks to my friends Fred and Debra Greene for sharing the link on Facebook. As Fred said, "Jon Stewart just became one of my great teachers...

"Boy would it be nice to be able to draw a straight line of causation from this horror to something tangible because then we could convince ourselves that if we just stopped 'this' the horrors will end."
In the wake of the Arizona shootings, Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart put aside his political satire and witty jokes by opening Monday night’s Daily Show with a serious speech that didn’t point fingers at any particular person to blame, but rather questioned and examined the nature of the violence.

Stewart opened the show with a few jokes, trying to lightheartedly, it seemed, talk about the shooting that shocked the nation. After a few laughs with his Senior Correspondent, John Oliver, Stewart transitioned into somber statement — “So here we are again stunned by a tragedy. 
 We have been visited by this demon before.”

He went on to give his condolences to those who were killed and affected by the tragic shooting, wondering what causes people to commit the crimes that they do.

“How do you make sense of these type of senseless situations seems to be the question that's on everybody's mind and I don't know that there is a way to make sense of this sort of thing.,” he said. Stewart added that the political pundit world who were working “feverishly to find the tidbit or two that will exonerate their side from blame” were “predictable” and “dispiriting.”

“We live in a complex ecosystem of influences and motivations and I wouldn't blame our political rhetoric any more than I would blame heavy metal music for Columbine,” he said, calling the political environment toxic and unproductive.

Amongst small jokes here and there, he later stated that he refused to give into the despair that the world is full of “crazies,” because “anonymous goodness does exist in the world. [Crazy] is rarer than you think. There is light in this situation.”

“Someone or something will shatter our world again and wouldn’t it be a shame if we didn’t take this opportunity and the loss of these incredible people…to make sure that the world we are creating now…wasn’t better than the one we previously lost.”

Even though we “can’t outsmart crazy,” as Stewart stated in his speech, we can send our prayers and condolences to those who lost their lives and who were affected by this tragedy. May peace be with you all.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Arizona Shootings Reaction
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