From Rabbi Lieberman

  • Turning of the Tide

    Posted ‍‍כז חשון ה תשעג - November 12, 2012 By in Rabbi's Thoughts With | Comments Off

    Pundits and politicians of every stripe are still engaged in their post-election post mortem. What is abundantly clear, regardless of whether one awakened on the morning of November 7th elated or deflated, is that our nation faces daunting challenges that will require unprecedented collaborative efforts to solve.

    But one message that rose to surface of the election aftermath is one I find especially heartening–the tide is turning with respect to equal marriage. Voters in the states of Maryland, Maine and Washington, voted to recognize same-sex marriage. Voters in Minnesota defeated an attempt to enshrine in that state’s constitution a limiting definition of marriage. These referenda results mark the first time that voters (as opposed to courts or legislatures) have affirmed that marriage is a civil right, accessible to all adults.

    Lest we think that this is some abstract victory, touching the lives of people we don’t know, let me hasten to assure you that this issue touches very close to our FJC home. In March, 2013, Lindsey Dawson, a young woman who grew up in this congregation, the daughter of our members Syrel  & Mick Dawson, will marry Jessica Chipoco in Maryland. They only learned that this would be possible on the morning of November 7. I rejoice with Lindsey and Jessica and their families!

    I am convinced that we are at a tipping point moment in our country’s history with respect to equal marriage rights. A new poll reflects increasing support in the Jewish community–81%– for same-sex marriage, a five per-cent increase since last May. Even as I write this column, it is expected that the Supreme Court will consider, this month, whether to hear two important cases related to federal recognition of same-sex marriage.

    At a time when we have reason to be concerned about so many issues–the looming fiscal “cliff”, a nuclear Iran, disengagement from Afghanistan, economic recovery–it is heartening and uplifting to be able to celebrate progress in the realm of human rights, progress attained at the ballot box and through the steady process of changing hearts and minds.

    Reb Elias

  • How do we wish to be remembered?

    Posted ‍‍יד חשון ה תשעג - October 30, 2012 By in Rabbi's Thoughts With | Comments Off

    A Request

    Ursula Le Guin

    [From Finding My Elegy: New and Selected Poems 1960-2010. © Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012.]

    Should my tongue be tied by stroke
    listen to me as if I spoke

    and said to you, “My dear, my friend,
    stay here a while and take my hand;

    my voice is hindered by this clot,
    but silence says what I cannot,

    and you can answer as you please
    such undemanding words as these.

    Or let our conversation be
    a mute and patient amity,

    sitting, all the words bygone,
    like a stone beside a stone.

    It takes a while to learn to talk
    the long language of the rock.”

    The panel discussion that we hosted in early October to discuss Ballot Question #2 (“Prescribing Medication to End Life”) was a thought-provoking and emotionally-charged experience. As Ursula Le Guin’s poem reminds us, issues surrounding physical incapacity and the events which often befall us at the ends of our lives can be deeply unsettling. Sometimes, if we are lucky–or purposeful–they can spur us to action.

    Regardless of how Massachusetts voters resolve Ballot Question #2, the concerns from which it emerged will not go away. End-of-life questions are important for all of us yet, in my pastoral experience, they are all too often shunted aside. Far too many of us will one day find ourselves in extremis without having articulated what it is that we want for ourselves as we approach death, often leaving confused and anguished loved ones to second-guess our desires.

    It is no coincidence that winter has, through the ages, served as a poetic metaphor for death. As we slowly make our way into another winter, let us resolve to use this season wisely. A wealth of books, articles and websites exist to support our efforts to clarify for ourselves what we do, and do not, desire at the end of our lives. I can think of few greater gifts we can give our loved ones than a conversation from the heart that addresses these vital issues.

    Even as we consider these important issues, we would do well to articulate equally important spiritual matters. How do we wish to be remembered? What do we want our survivors to know about what motivated and inspired us when we lived? What will we bequeath our loved ones that is not material in nature but which is reflective of our deepest and most cherished beliefs? The Jewish tradition of creating an ethical will reflects that impulse. It, too, can be a gift of inestimable value to those who will survive us.

    Reb Elias

  • Simchat Torah 5773!

    Posted ‍‍כח תשרי ה תשעג - October 14, 2012 By in Rabbi's Thoughts, Uncategorized With | Comments Off

    Thanks to our member, Art Lash, for these photos from our Simchat Torah celebration on October 7th. Our feet, and spirits, were flying!

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