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A Word from Rabbi Schulman - 11/11/16

My message for this week is divided in two parts. The first part is sharing with you the sheer joy I feel in the aftermath of my daughter Naomi’s wedding. Perfection is a rarity in life. But Naomi and Ryan’s wedding was perfect in all the ways a joining together of two beautiful, wonderful, individuals should be.

This past Sunday, I got to kvell as Naomi’s dad. Right before the ceremony, when I walked into the bridal room and saw my daughter looking beyond gorgeous, I was speechless. When I stood under the chuppah, holding Eve’s hand and gazing at our daughter and her beloved, my heart swelled. When during the wedding reception, Naomi offered her heartfelt, words of gratitude to everyone, I felt such pride in her eloquence.

The essence of my toast to Naomi and Ryan were these words: “When children find true love, parents find true joy.” May every parent be blessed to see your child find a loving companion for life.

The second part of this message concerns the election that took place on Tuesday. In contrast to those who may believe that politics should never be discussed in a synagogue, I believe that there is a time and place for doing so. There are important ground rules that must be followed. The first is that when it comes to issues of public concern (LGBT rights, immigration, Israel, etc.), as Reform Jews we have a moral responsibility to advocate for policies that align with our values. We have done so on occasion in the past and I believe it is vital for us as a Progressive congregation to do so consistently and vigorously in the future.

The second ground rule is that as a synagogue we have a responsibility not to communally endorse anyone for elected office. To do so would be a violation of our status as a non-profit institution. Just as importantly, as a House of Worship, Prayer, and Community, Temple Beth Torah is a sacred space. There will never be unanimity about who should hold office. Good people can honestly disagree. What is absolutely essential is that Temple Beth Torah be a synagogue where each individual is respected and affirmed.

This election cycle has been an enormously stressful time for many. Even with the passage of a few days, there are very strong emotions people are feeling about the outcome of the presidential election.

On many occasions on a Shabbat evening, in lieu of a sermon, we have created time to share our perspectives. Tonight at our Shabbat Service, I intend to create a safe space for us to speak about the national election. It will be my responsibility to ensure everyone who wishes can speak freely. Knowing our members, I am confident our conversation will be respectful and even enriching.

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