Wednesday, June 24, 2009

We're Still Waiting for Gilad Shalit

Last year I posted a similar post on this day.

I truly, horribly, completely wish that I were not writing the same post today.

From this website:

Gilad Schalit was born on August 28th, 1986, in Nahariya and raised in Mitzpe Hilla in the Western Galilee by his parents Aviva and Noam with his siblings Yoel and Hadas. At the end of July 2005 Gilad began his military service in a combat unit of the armored corps. For the two months prior to his kidnapping, he has been on duty guarding and ensuring the security of the settlements around Gaza.

On Sunday, June 25th 2006, in a terrorist attack on an IDF post at Kerem Shalom during which his unit friends have been killed, Gilad was taken captive and has been held since in the Gaza Strip by Hamas.

To this day Gilad didn’t receive any visits from an official faction, including the Red Cross, and there is no reliable information about his well being.

Three years have passed since his abduction. Let's remind everyone that he has yet to come home and demand his quick return.

On June 25th, the three-year anniversary to his abduction, please replace your personal profile picture with Gilad’s picture on Facebook, Windows Live Messenger, ICQ, Tapuz, bona, Mekusharim, news groups and any other social network or blog you’re a member of, and show the world that you are waiting for Gilad Schalit’s return.

Unfortunately, since my post last year, the remains of soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, abducted at the same time as Gilad, were returned to Israel.

We are still waiting for Gilad. Each and every day.

May his return come speedily and safely.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Today at the Holocaust Museum

I cannot begin to express my horror at what happened today at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.

From the website of the USHMM:
There are no words to express our grief and shock over today’s events at the Museum, which took the life of Officer Stephen Tyrone Johns. Officer Johns, who died heroically in the line of duty, served on the Museum’s security staff for six years. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Officer Johns’s family. We have made the decision to close the Museum Thursday, June 11, in honor of Officer Johns and our flags will be flown at half mast in his memory.

May his memory be for a blessing.
"A living memorial to the Holocaust, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum stimulates leaders and citizens to confront hatred, prevent genocide, promote human dignity, and strengthen democracy."
May we continue to fight against hatred in the world. May the mission of the USHMM continue to be undeterred. 
Let us never forget.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Welcoming New Colleagues

Every year, the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion ordains its current class of seniors. It elevates them from their status as "student rabbis" to "Rabbis." All of their training, practice, work, study, learning, and preparation culminates in a ceremony that bestows the title upon them. It is moving, inspiring, and truly memorable.

This year, there has been a lot of media attention on the ordination ceremonies that took place in Cincinnati. A great deal of attention has been bestowed upon a great "first" for the College-Institute, the ordination of the first African-American woman as a rabbi. It was a historic moment for the school, for our movement, for our people.

In many ways, however, it reminded me of the truly marvelous stories that each of these newly-minted rabbis bring to our school, our movement and our people.

I was honored to be present at the ordination ceremonies this year in Cincinnati. At that time, I witnessed the ordination of prize winners and poets, musicians and teachers. They served congregations in Ohio, North Dakota, Indiana, Louisiana, Florida, Michigan, Kentucky. They worked in nursing homes, Hillels and hospitals. They taught children and adults. Some were on the rabbinic path since childhood. Others came to it later in life. Judaism bloomed in their lives early and later. They are both parents and children, pray-ers and do-ers. They were surrounded by loved ones and friends, teachers and mentors. One was the child of a rabbi, one the brother. Their family members stood for their ordination and blessed them personally, as I did for my husband when he was ordained. In a truly touching moment, the father-rabbi took his own tallit and placed it on the shoulders of his son, literally passing on the mantle of trust and love and responsibility.

Each time I attend an ordination (I think I've been at 8), I honestly expect it to be boring. The service is, undoubtedly, long. But each year I am surprised when I am not bored at all. This year, I was instead inspired as I watched the faces of the students as they each stood on the right-hand side of the Bima first, waiting their turn, and then, as their name was called, ascending. And then, watching, as the same student received his or her blessing, a moment usually accompanied by trembling and tears. Finally, the student stood on the left-hand side of the Bima, witnessing the ordination of their next classmate, before descending back to the pews. The ritual repeated, with great care and deliberation, until each had their turn. There is great decorum in Cincinnati, we were reminded by our President, and there is no cheering. But inside we are all shouting, we are all dancing with joy, that one journey is ending and another beginning. Each year we are reminded that the distance from the right side of the Bima to the left side is short - but oh so long.

Each of the newly-made rabbis is worthy of our praise, each is worthy of our celebration. It was truly an honor to be present and to celebrate with these students who I am now honored to call rabbi and colleague.

The Ordination Class of 5769/2009 in Cincinnati, Ohio
Mazel tov to Rabbis
Elizabeth Bandyk Bahar
Katie Bauman
Rachel Crossly Saphire
Lisa Delson
Debra Dressler
Tami Elliott Goodman
Noah Fabricant
Jennifer Frenkel
Marshal Klaven
Anna Levin
David Reiner
Alysa Stanton
Howard Stein
Elizabeth Wood