Why I Wore My Father’s Medal Today.

Why I Wore My Father’s Medal Today. 

April 11 2015

Amichai Lau-Lavie

 

On April 11th 1945 Buchenwald was liberated and my father Naphtali, 19 year old Jewish prisoner, was liberated, along with his younger brother Israeli, age 8.

In all the years since, April 11th has become my father’s celebrated birthday, a quiet opportunity for a drink with the family, a few words of gratitude.

This year is the first time we are marking this day since his death, just five months ago. The 11th falls on the last shabbat of Passover, leaving us with the taste of liberations ancient and more recent, and also with the knowledge that this year – and with each passing year and the passing of survivors, the memories fade and it becomes the responsibility of the next generations to keep the stories, symbols, rituals, alive.

 

But why, exactly?

For me, April 11th is not just about remembering the horrors of the Holocaust, and the human brutality that creeps in through doors of racism and  sexism, ethnic or religious divides. Now it’s also another way to remember my father. But there’s more. April 11th is the shared code-word for many I’ve met in past years – with similar stories. Some are children of other Buchenwald survivors, some had fathers who liberated the camp. This date has become a private but increasingly public marker of the power and the possibility of radical hope and of persistent faith that freedom will prevail and the injustice will be met with firm resistance and resolve.  This date has become a placeholder for belief that beyond our solitary existence, greater truth and loyalties exist and matter, worthwhile living for, surviving for, fighting and waiting for.

Somehow, sub-human, starving and freezing, my father and his brother survived to see the Americans drive through the gates of Buchenwald on April 11th. When I asked them about what helped them cling on to life without knowing that redemption had a date, my father pointed at his brother and said that it was the sense of responsibility. He promised his parents that he will take care of his brother and continue the family’s rabbinic line. My uncle first said ‘jam’ – every once in while he got a teaspoon of it. In later interviews he spoke of faith.

So I wore my father’s medal today. This medal of honor my father received when he went back to Buchenwald in 2005 to mark the 60th anniversary of liberation. He joked about it after – ‘look! I got a medal for surviving!’ but he kept in his desk with the rest of the memorabilia. In the days following the shiva, as we began to sort through and re-organize the house, there was the medal, and I asked to keep it. I wore it once so far, at a recent event honoring the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

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Today I wore the medal as I went to recite the mourner’s’ kaddish in my his memory, in a local shul nearby. Then I wore it to a special performance  – James Lecesne’s astounding one man play about the life and death of a gay teen struggling for dignity. This preview was presented for The Trevor Project national youth counsel – offering LGBT teens a hot-line and lifeline to keep on believing that it will get better and that they should be loved exactly as they are.  I wore it to remind myself and others that there are reasons to hold on to hope.

Those (few, this IS NYC) who asked about the medal were told about its story and held my hand, a meaning making moment in the middle of our lives.

In an article published this weekend in a North Carolina newspaper, just ahead of Holocaust Commemoration Day that falls this year on April 16, this question caught my eye:

“Will the Holocaust still matter at a time when widespread killing around the world has become old news?”

Every day brings horror stories of recent atrocities around the world. Rwanda and Darfur, Yarmuk or Yazd are just a few names of unspeakable genocides and inhumane realities – some happening right now. Anti semitic attacks and domestic abuse, terrorism and gun violence are just more horrors on the never-ending list of human-made evil.

So why still focus on what happened to our people 70 years ago? Menachem Rosensaft, son of survivors, lawyer, community leader and editor of From the Ashes, a recent book containing the stories of 88 children and grandchildren of survivors – myself included, has a reply: “The Nazi death camps, Rosensaft said, which necessitated the complicity of industries, governments and millions of ordinary people, remain “symbols for the potential of evil.

Equally true, he said, is that the survivors of those camps – and their children and grandchildren – are also symbols. The hope, he said, is that they will continue to inspire the world, especially today’s victims.

“It would have been extremely easy in 1945 for Holocaust survivors to give up on the world,” Rosensaft said. “Instead, within weeks or months of liberation, they returned to life with a vengeance.” Read the entire article in the Charlotte Observer  

 

On April 16th, at Temple Emanu-El’s Skirball Center in NYC,  I will have the honor of joining Menachem and a few other distinguished writers and local leaders, all children and grandchildren of survivors, to keep the legacy alive. Who knows, I may again wear my father’s medal in his honor.

 

On this day I pause to hope that all memories live on as in us as blessings, tools salvages from our histories to make our world a better place – for all.

 

 

Why Synagogue? Thinking Out-loud about the Shifting Realities of Sacred Space

Why Synagogue?

Amichai Lau-Lavie

(A reply to Rabbi Elliot Cosgrove)

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My friend Dan is a rabbi in crisis. His small congregation adores him but wants to replace the apple of his eye – his 30 minutes Sabbath morning sermon  -with an interactive lay-led conversation. He wants quality scholarship, advanced literacy – they just want to schmooze and talk together about what is on their minds and hearts. Dan is young, smart, passionate and comes from a traditional/classical model of what happens in a synagogue and what’s the role of rabbi. But in more and more communities across the Jewish eco-system that model is fading out. Many wonder: What will replace it and how?  Dan’s crisis is one of many – and there are many of us who are trying to make sense of this change and turn crisis into creative opportunity.   Lab/Shul, the experimental congregation I founded in NYC is one of those attempts at refreshing the role of the synagogue. This co-creation is less than a year old and was born of precisely this charge for change and as the guy in charge – these questions are what’s keeping me up at night: What are the winning recipes (and are there any?) that can help us make more meaning in our lives while negotiating continuity and preserving some of the historical modes of our spiritual structures?  I am definitely not alone in this kind of late night thinking – the future of the synagogue is a priority item on the collective Jewish agenda – source of anxiety for some and creativity for others.

 

Just last Shabbat, Rabbi Elliot Cosgrove delivered a sermon about this very topic at his Manhattan sanctuary. Cosgrove is an articulate scholar, eloquent speaker and very elegant rabbi, now at the helm of Park Avenue Synagogue – one of the flagships of the Conservative Movement. His sermon, based on that week’s Torah narrative that outlines the construction of the first Jewish sacred space, explored the very existence of the institution that employs him.  As is the (sometimes viral) fate of many sermons these days – I read it online. Rabbi Cosgrove runs a tight ship and Park Ave. Syn. is enjoying a steady success, but he’s right to be worried – pointing at recent studies that show the decline in synagogue affiliation nationwide within the context of emerging trends such as hyper consumerism, individuality and digital realities.  Why should the fate of synagogues be any different than that of Borders Books and Blockbuster Video?” Cosgrove asks, citing data about synagogue membership numbers in NYC even lower than other metropolitan and suburban centers across the US.

 

He’s got answers, too. Referencing the Biblical blueprint for the first portable temple, he suggests that meaningful spiritual experience should be the central value proposition of the modern synagogue. It’s sort of a no-brainer but he reacts to what shuls have often become in the U.S. and he wants to step away from the shul with a pool and a school: Not a community center with a gym or a social club/study hall – but a site for the experiential sacred.

 

I agree with the main thrust of this response – but I’m not sure he’s offering a formula that walks this talk for a wider audience and can move bigger numbers of non-shul-going Jews to even consider checking out a synagogue anytime soon or help existing congregations make it through another year.

 

One of the key issues, as in Dan’s case, is the difference in expectations – a growing gap is widening between what folks are looking for and what clergy know to offer.  Cosgrove wants the synagogue to be “ a place where God’s presence may be experienced” but I think he is aiming too high for today’s average ‘consumer/seeker’. Religious thought doesn’t have to be necessarily watered down to meet the masses but for this day and age – re branding is critical.

The issue of shared expectations is closely tied here to another core issue – vocabulary.  When it comes to marketing the sacred in the modern marketplace, there are baggaged words that spell out trouble and keep people away. Little words like “God”.

 

Cosgrove mentions “God” 19 times in his sermon, articulating what it is that drove, drives and may drive Jews in droves to a synagogue:

 

“Only here, only in a synagogue, is the unique and infinite divinity of every human being brought into full relief in a communal context…only in a synagogue, can you be part of a community whose operating assumption is that everyone – young and old, rich and poor, single and married, people you like and don’t like – all of us exist equally, collectively and covenantally in God’s image and presence.”

 

100% yes to the inclusive notion of ‘finding relief in the infinite divinity of our humanity.’ But easy on the God-talk. The challenge may be the wording – the fact that so many of us are allergic to the concept and the mere mention of God, even when seeking to connect to what soul and spirit and shared destiny and bigger picture is all about.

 

The issue isn’t faith – it’s terminology.

 

This is not just about semantics- the problematic word so overused it has become almost meaningless and hollow and oft abused by religious voices that make us cower. It does in some way reflect the evolving, if subtle, state of our theology: What IS it that the divine mystery means to us today? Is it different in tangible ways from what our grandparents held on to?  What is the current take on the metaphor of ‘God’ as it evolves in this relativistic neo-feminist, user generated, and Universalist paradigm-shift era?

 

Many of us want sacred experience and willing to suspend our disbelief to hold on to some big ‘mother earth’ version of big picture, but we want less old school God talk. If not the patriarchal punishing Lord of Hosts: What then? What words can be used to serve our old new formulations of mystery? Most of us crave meaningful experiences that stimulate our thinking, move our heart, encourage our more mindful behavior and connect us to history, mystery and to each other. But we want it on our terms – for better or worse – less top down dogma, less either/or doctrines, less heady (classical rabbinic?) formulations of worship and faith and devotion that recycle same old religion for a age that needs and calls for the new and improved.

 

We do want more transparent truth, honest expectations met and shared and cultivating what is so lacking in our modern lives: a place to be vulnerable with other people – a safe haven for our way too stifled souls.

The digital is connecting us like never before but also disconnecting us like never before. We need these safe spaces to be real again, to unplug and reconnect to what really matters in the ripples of our lives.

 

That’s why synagogues  – better translated from the Hebrew Beit Knesset – as ‘Entry Points’  (Thank you Craig Taubman for this idea) can matter again. The right design and ambiance is key, as are the music and the prose and poetry, the type of seats and food and access, when it happens, who’s there and why. We want our liturgy to match our modern intellectual and literary sensibilities, and our religious narratives and dramas to speak directly to who we are today and what values we embody in our hearts and in our workplaces and on the streets.  We need guidance to lead more balanced lives and hand over our heritage to our children. The last thing any of us wants is preservation of the ancient for its own sake, and not for ours. But this is often the first thing that most of us are getting – it’s not good enough and it’s simply not working.  And yes – we need a symbol for the greater than self that holds us together.  And we need a better brand. The ancient brand name – Adonai – AKA GOD, for so many, has already left the building.

 

Cosgrove is aware of this, of course.  For the atheists or on-the-fence among us he’s offering the notion of divinity through the eyes and hearts of others – and its beautiful- but not enough: “If God’s presence is elusive, then a synagogue bears the promise that another person may brighten our darkness by way of the light of their divine spark, and together we may mend a broken world together. “

 

Yes, again. But here’s what my friends will answer: why do I have to sit through three hours of Hebrew liturgy to feel a human spark?  What will make the ‘House of God’ a home to our soul and embodiment of our sacred pleasures?

 

 

Clarity or expectations, experimentation, and a new way to talk about the sacred – would help, I think, a lot.  For generations we have tried new things and it’s happening again, even is slowly. More of us are seeking and more of us are creating new forms of sacred spaces that offer our young and restless (and not so young and not so restless) lives real solutions to more meaningful, life-long, conversations and connections.  It’s an exciting time to turn crisis into creative opportunity.

 

That’s what I advised my friend Dan to do – listen carefully to the ones who do show up and find a way to make your sermon interactive, more lay-led, a conversation and an exercise in transparency and crowd sourcing. Everybody has a lot to learn here. Find other times to teach head on. Just inviting your congregants to think out loud with you about what they want out of shul – why they are there on Shabbat morning – and what it is that you are driven by – will get you all to clearer ground, on the same page, and clarity of learning curve, process, and one step further from crisis and closer to the sense of shared communal values.

 

Yes, we all can benefit from greater religious literacy and depth of learning our tradition- but how we get there is different than how our ancestors got there, back in Sinai or Warsaw or Fez. Let’s talk about it, together.  Clarity of expectations is key.

 

And I’d like to tweak Rabbi Cosgrove’s moving message  – only slightly, make it more compelling to the majority of Jews on the planet – esp. the reluctant ones among my friends and family who signed off the synagogue experience. It’s a small tweak but a big step and a not so simple re branding attempt.

 

Can we rebrand God?

 

When Lab/Shul started formulating our key messaging we added ‘God-Optional’ to our mission statement – right after ‘Everybody-Friendly’ and ‘Experimental’. This was our way to welcome all and be honest about the fact that we come with different assumptions about faith and that it doesn’t really matter. Then we removed it – people claimed it was too vague. The intention was to invite people to experience the sacred in their lives through the Jewish modes of contemplative practice with as little baggage as possible and as open as possible to whatever rocks their inner boat.

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Our liturgy is projects on screens – we do not use prayer books. All translated references to God have been replaced by other concepts – ‘source’ or ‘creator’ or ‘being’ or ‘mystery.’ We’ve kept the Hebrew original but the open ended new translations offer us, I think, a way to play more freely in the playgrounds of our yearnings, gratitude and awe. It is, like soul and life and all, a constant multi layered work in process.

 

We are also still debating the mission statement. Some recently suggested GOD: DIY, or – our recent favorite – BYOG.  Time will tell…

 

The humor and the open source approach, help, I think, to keep us honest, modeling our intention – trying to make sense of our inherited sacred tool kit in an increasingly perplexing reality of competing ideologies and way too many options. Constant check in of our different expectations helps a lot as well  – getting us on the same page, as often as possible, with those who join us on holy days, weekends or occasional online.

 

So: Why synagogue?  to carve out a spacious safe space deep within our busy lives, making room for mystery to dwell, for compassion to blossom, human vulnerability to echo and a deeper connection celebrated with all of our body, all of being, and all of our soul.  

 

Lab/Shul is just a kid – starting out – proud to sit on the shoulders of giants and be part of a growing network of spiritual innovators worldwide who are busy reconfiguring the sacred. My friend Dan and Rabbi Cosgrove are but two of many more who are taking this challenge head-on – each in a different way. Exciting conversations about these new realities take place in interfaith settings as well, as brave leaders of all faiths are finding ways of not only upgrading their own religious narratives but share, care, and find meaning and solutions in the riches of each other’s legacy and treasured paths. The collective wisdom of our past attempts to make life holy and healthy offers new and noble ways to bless our present and help us create a beautiful and better future.

 

Is this a good enough reason to keep synagogues open or start-up new ones? I guess time will tell but I’m betting on it. The mobile tent of our ancestors morphed into a marble temple, holy huts and grand cathedrals of every imaginable human design. Like the concept of God, the synagogue is also a work in progress. It’s time for new labs that will ask different questions, try new replies, and re brand that old time religion, makeover style, to resonate radically in the here and now.

 

 

Amichai Lau-Lavie

2/7/2014

 

Unscrolling: My New Weekly Torah Blog Starts Today

UNSCROLLING: A Year of Wrestling, Quoting, and Reclaiming Torah
Amichai’s New Weekly Blog (10/2013-10/2014)
This year I’m reading the weekly Torah portion through the eyes of 54 creative wrestlers   in Reboot’s new book Unscrolled. My year long journey will be blogged weekly as commentary on their commentary, quoting quotes, plucking pearls from this pool of biblically inspired juices for a more inspired now.
Week One and Two: The Saddest Road
“Guide me to write a different better story.”
Josh Radnor believes in God and jump starts this journey. But he’s not praying here to that angry scripture papa that smites and judges and alienates. 72% of American Jews believe in some sort of God or universal spirit, according to the new Pew Report released this week  – and I think more will believe and pray and feel part of something bigger if they read what Josh was writing about divinity –  wild, and loving, mystery, a moan, a father-mother mixer at the core of what we are. Not that what matters is if more people  believe in God and if more Jews know more  Torah and Jew it better. But what matters, here, to me, is the beauty of the journey, questions asked, words that tackle life’s big meaning, ancient text as pretext to the journey of our lives. If this was the case then this report would look quite different and I think one day it will. So many of us are so removed from the simple soul truths that are covered by layers of austere religion. We need to start again, from the beginning.
Radnor, a beloved brother, brave spiritual warrior, prays the first step of this year long journey: “Teach me the true meaning of the garden, the snake, the apple and the fall. Let me learn anew.”
Then fall, and flood, and crash:
“The tower crashed. After the dust cleared, the people looked around, bewildered, coughing.
They all began talking at once. It was loud and confusing.. Someone was singing a song no one had even heard before, to a melody that had no match.
I was weeping on the ground and a man walked by.
…He reached into  his pocket and unscrolled a parchment. He read it quietly for a while. Than handed it to me.
I could not read a word of it, but mostly it was just a picture of a road. A long road into an open horizon, which matched the view I saw when I looked up.
But where does it lead?
To everything.”
Aimee Bender takes on Babble – tower, topple, words gone wrong, what happens when communication crashes, quoting Andre Breton, she frames the second Torah portion and the second genesis of our human polyglot reality sending us to translate signals, seeking ways to get on the same scroll:
“Keep reminding yourself that literature is the saddest road that leads to everything.” Aimee quotes Breton, and I quote her here, traveling along the same and the saddest road, less traveled by and also full of smiles, that leads to everything, one word, one week at a time, unwinding like this giant scroll.
Join us for the journey.

Changing God’s Mind: One Law at a Time! Word #38

WORD: A Word a Week from the World’s Best Seller. Follow the Annual Torah Re-Run Series with Amichai Lau-Lavie’s Newest Year-Long Blog. To subscribe via email click here. To listen to the audio version click here.

 

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Judgement

משפט

The turning of tides started, this week, with Wendy Davis.
Davis rose in defiance of the Bible bashing law makers for 13 hours  and helped make history -not just in Texas,  not just for women, and not just for all who believe that abortions are a right, not a sin, but for all of us who care about progress and equality.
Barely had time to digest that when the best news came from DC on Doma and Prop 8.
Edie Windsor, Wendy Davis and so many more stand tall this week, and along with them are  five heroines right from the pages of the Bible, whose story is repeated this week in memory of judgment reversed and human rights dignified and celebrated. When it’s time for justice – sometimes even God is wrong, and the law changes.
There is a famous story in the Talmud about a legal dispute. Two camps take sides, and one of them, led by the solitary Rabbi Eliezer claims to speak for God, even creating magical proof. But the other camp wins. And God, say the rabbis, laughs and says: You won, kids, you won!
Michelle Bachman clearly doesn’t think so, (and to quote Nancy Pelosi – who cares?) but this week, laws of the land, touted by many as God’s words were reversed, in a stunning admission that things can and do change: even God’s mind, as recorded in our laws, beliefs and values.
What has been challenged this week is patriarchy itself – the notion of who is in God’s image, who counts, and what’s sacred. In all legal matters this week, the old word, the old guard got a taste of major change, and God, if one may feel so, laughs within and watches the old structures crumble, and something new emerging slowly to the top.
Even in Israel one could smell the patriarchal old school shake somewhat: The Chief Rabbi Metzger arrested for financial misconduct and sexual advances at men. To quote most Israelis – so what? – Along with compassion for a man clearly trapped in his hidden sexuality and the men who were his victims – and with hopes of healing for all – there’s the recognition here that this old structure – chief men rabbis in black speaking for God and alienating most of us – is in disgrace – is losing its grace and standing.  It will take time – but it’s about time.
And then there’s the five sisters, named, victorious, in an ancient court of law:
Mahla, Tirtza, Noa, Hogla and Milka, orphaned sisters, descended from Joseph, are getting ready to enter the Promised Land. But as single women they realize that they have no plot, no promised land of their own: that right is reserved for men and their male heirs. They go to Moses, all five, challenge him, he goes to God for judgement, and God rules, quite plainly – they are right, and I was wrong.  You won, kids, you won.
The law changes. Women, as well as men, are now able to get plots in the new land that awaits beyond the river. A biblical Feminist precedent, no less.
(never mind that the verdict will be challenged a few weeks from now and the five sisters will be told to marry their cousins so that the territory stays in the family. For now, lets linger on the triumph.)
Standing up for women’s rights to control their body and block the law that prevents abortions 20 weeks and up, law makers, activists and protesters stood up to power in much the same way, pushed beyond midnight and got it done. Here, too, some next steps may interfere, but for now, lets focus on the courage and the wisdom in fighting for what’s right – and within the system.
DOMA’s demise, ten years in the making, honors the rights of so many of us to love as we do and look God in the eye, as create in Divine image, not second class citizens in any way.
And God loves it. She really does.
And I do care that not everybody thinks so, and that for many June 26 will go down as a day of shame, but right now, for God’s sake – I just want to celebrate the day of pride,  the courage to change, the patience to listen, the humility of progress, and the dignity of disagreement – in the name of law and love.
Mazel Tov America!!! Happy Pride.
Shabbat Shalom.

Amichai Lau-Lavie is the Founder and Executive Director of Storahtelling, Inc. creating sustainable solutions for life-long Jewish Learning since 1999. storahtelling.org

Saying God is Great isn’t Always Such a Great Idea. Word #11

WORD: A Word a Week from the World’s Best Seller. Follow the Annual Torah Re-Run Series with Amichai Lau-Lavie’s Newest Year-Long Blog. To subscribe via email click here. To listen to the audio version click here.

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GOD  אלהים

“It was God’s will” is a terrible thing to say to the bereaved no matter the intention. Piety is sometimes simply wrong. But that’s what we hear over and over on the news this week, from religious leaders, politicians and pundits, talking to/about the  parents, friends and shocked neighbors in Connecticut.  Does this kind of faithful lingo ultimately help or hurt?  What does this form of soothing do to our souls, to our minds, to our ability to try to heal and fix our world? 

 

Some things are best left unsaid. Even, sometimes, truths.

 

The  claims by some to know what is God’s will when bad stuff happens are pure heresy and very bad taste. Stephen Prothero, one of my favorite writers on religion wrote  on this yesterday: “Much better to say there is no God or, as Abraham Lincoln did, “The Almighty has his own purposes,” than to flatter ourselves with knowing what those purposes are.”

 

What I’m left with, beyond the frustration with this abusive  and violent God language (did I mention “God hates fags” and “God loves guns”?)  is the big messy question of faith: Trying to make sense of the incredible human yearning and at times, capacity, to create comfort in times of crisis, to make meaning of loss, to get up in the morning and find ways to hope and cope and strive for better. Is all that grounded in the thought-out mental leap of faith that everything happens for a reason? Or are we just on auto pilot because the other alternative is too horrid to live with: that chaos rules our lives? 

I am struggling with faith, with the courage to believe or not, to trust that there is possibly a plan in motion and that there’s reason for whatever happens, even when it makes no sense and worse.

 

But sometimes, often,  it all feels like a mass manipulation.  Like a pious lie. 

 

The longest night of the year, coming up this Friday, let alone the big question of what will or won’t happen as the Mayan calendar ends only adds to the rumble in our collective belly: The solar systems circle on, but is anything in charge? 

 

And so I wonder – when did this notion of the “Big Plan”  start? I may be wrong but I think that this week’s Torah text, Va’yigash,describes the first such bold theological assumption in the Bible: Joseph comes out to his brothers as that Hebrew boy they once sold as slave. “But it’s all good, my brothers”, he assures them: “how else could I have saved you now? It is all God’s bigger plan. ” Gen. 45:5  

This may be the first time that God (here referred to as Elhoim), gets full credit by a human for the running of the show.

The brothers are silent with shock:  A reasonable reaction. 

 

Really, Joseph? Hindsight  is 20/20. 22 years after the pit, this ruler of Egypt has perspective and trusts the Higher Power. But can one hold to this type of faith when deep inside the pits of grief and trauma? Did he, like Job, bless God inside the pit and had faith in the big plan or did he lose it as so many of us do when it hits the fan? 

 

Perhaps the brothers, in their silence, got it right.

They were not just shocked to see their brother – they didn’t know what to make of his claim that every little plot twist is the work of God.

And even if, let’s say, this IS the Truth – even then: Some truths,  are better, sometimes, left unspoken. Words of faith, spoken at the not so perfect timing,  can hurt instead of heal, close the heart instead of opening it to the possible.  

Even if one is 100% sure that there is a plan and horrors have a reason – saying this at moments that are too raw is rarely helpful. The ability to deal with these big questions is an intimate act, and it deserves the bravest of attentions, quietly, with some healthy distance from the wound.

Faith is not an auto pilot nod. It’s a private work in process. 

“You gotta have faith” Paul Rudd tells me in the back of the cab this morning, “and  also – you need a backup plan.” It’s an ad for a play on Broadway called ‘Grace’ that I hear is awesome but what sticks with me when I get out of the cab on Union Square is this simple not so simple message: Have faith in something bigger than us all, but pull in your own weight.  In other words: Whether there’s a big plan or not, and no matter what happens this Friday – how we each take care of each other, comfort the sad, make each day count more is all about us. And sometimes the humble honest thing is just to hug and not say much, and be grateful for what we’ve got. Maybe that’s what helped Joseph get through his ordeal. Maybe that’s what will help the the good people in Newtown. It isn’t much, and there’s still the big question – but for now, that’s good enough. 

Shabbat Shalom

 

Amichai Lau-Lavie is the Founder and Executive Director of Storahtelling, Inc. creating sustainable solutions for life-long Jewish Learning since 1999. storahtelling.org