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Memorial Day 2021

06/01/2021 11:37:15 AM

Jun1

 

Dear Adath Shalom Family;

As we join our families and friends, gathering for a picnic or barbeque on this Memorial Day, for many of us, our first get-together after this long, dreadful year of the pandemic, let us reflect on the obstacles that we have overcome and the sacrifices that have been made to make it possible for us to "sit every one under their vine and fig tree."  

 

Our country, our way of life, the freedoms and security that we enjoy, have been hard-won.  The foundation of the United States of America stands firm because of the awful price willingly paid by our bravest and greatest.  

 

There are no words of thanks adequate and no tribute great enough.  Our republic, battered and tested, is not some abstract entity, but a society created by real men and women who sought to establish a community based on the principles of equality, freedom and the opportunity for every individual to achieve their own greatness.  On Memorial Day, we rejoice in the sunlight and the warmth of the coming summer of hope, with the sober realization that we do so due to the sacrifices made by our soldiers. Not faceless fighters, but citizen soldiers of the United States of America, men and women of all races, faiths and ways of life, who came forward in the belief that our country was worth fighting for, and if necessary, dying for.

 

We realize too that part of our obligation to them is in living the incredible words of our Constitution, one of the wonders of human history: "We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union...."

 

We must not rest our hands from the holy task of creating a more perfect union.  The dead we remember, their sacred legacy demands that  our country continue to face up to its past -- all of its past -- without hesitation or denial.  The 31st of May is also the grim anniversary of the most horrific racial attack ever perpetrated in American history by Americans on Americans: the Tulsa Race Massacre.   We have only begun to confront the newly-emerging legacy of this shameful chapter that left the African-American community of Tulsa, Oklahoma decimated -- and cost hundreds of innocent Black lives -- swept away in the violence of vile racism.  Racism that we as Jews know all too well.  Memorial Day preserves the memory of all of our fellow Americans who paid the ultimate price: and we owe them all the eternal debt of exorcising racism, bigotry, hate and prejudice -- in whatever foul form it wears -- from our midst forever.

 

So as we look out at those we love, G-d willing finally without the masks when possible and safe, let us stand in our minds before all those generations of our fellow Americans who paid the ultimate price of freedom.  Let us tell them that by the burning words of the Prophets of Israel who implanted in our hearts the message that G-d demands that we do justice, love compassion and walk humbly, we, the Children of Israel, the American Jewish community, treasure their legacy, their lives and their sacrifice.  The People of Memory will not forget and will always be grateful.

 

And to those of the Jewish community whose loved ones have died in service of their country: tears of eternal grief mingle with tears of pride and gratitude.  You have given your country and your people the most precious, the most holy.  We know that their neshamas are gathered in the presence of the Source of Life, for their sacrifice made them forever a part of that Source.  Their lives are in every moment of freedom and peace that we enjoy.  Y'hei zichram livracha u'l'mishmeret: may their remembrance be a blessing and a guardianship forever.

 

Please say this Psalm, the Psalm of Divine Protection for all those we remember.  The translation is my own.

שִׁ֗יר לַֽמַּ֫עֲל֥וֹת אֶשָּׂ֣א עֵ֭ינַי אֶל־הֶהָרִ֑ים מֵ֝אַ֗יִן יָבֹ֥א עֶזְרִֽי׃

עֶ֭זְרִי מֵעִ֣ם יְהֹוָ֑ה עֹ֝שֵׂ֗ה שָׁמַ֥יִם וָאָֽרֶץ׃

אַל־יִתֵּ֣ן לַמּ֣וֹט רַגְלֶ֑ךָ אַל־יָ֝נ֗וּם שֹׁמְרֶֽךָ׃

הִנֵּ֣ה לֹֽא־יָ֭נוּם וְלֹ֣א יִישָׁ֑ן שׁ֝וֹמֵ֗ר יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃

יְהֹוָ֥ה שֹׁמְרֶ֑ךָ יְהֹוָ֥ה צִ֝לְּךָ֗ עַל־יַ֥ד יְמִינֶֽךָ׃

יוֹמָ֗ם הַשֶּׁ֥מֶשׁ לֹֽא־יַכֶּ֗כָּה וְיָרֵ֥חַ בַּלָּֽיְלָה׃

יְֽהֹוָ֗ה יִשְׁמׇרְךָ֥ מִכׇּל־רָ֑ע יִ֝שְׁמֹ֗ר אֶת־נַפְשֶֽׁךָ׃

יְֽהֹוָ֗ה יִשְׁמׇר־צֵאתְךָ֥ וּבוֹאֶ֑ךָ מֵ֝עַתָּ֗ה וְעַד־עוֹלָֽם׃

A Song to be Sung by the Levites on the Risers of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem

 

I lift my eyes to the menacing hills; from where will my help come?

My help comes from the Eternal One of Being, Maker of heaven and earth.

The Eternal will not let your foot stumble; Your Guardian does not slumber.

Behold!  The Guardian of Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps; the Eternal preserves you, the Eternal is the sheltering shade at your right hand.

By day the sun will not strike you, nor the moon by night; the Eternal guards you from all harm; the Eternal preserves your soul.

Adonai guards your going forth and your coming in, now and forever.

 

With heartfelt blessings-

Rabbi Rudin

Wed, October 20 2021 14 Cheshvan 5782