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If you were around in the 1980’s you most likely remember the “united colors of Benetton.” It was a remarkably successful ad campaign for the clothing company, which pitched and celebrated diversity as its brand identity. Well, let me share with you the united colors of Neveh Shalom.
Over the course of a lifetime, we may hold any number of different titles, positions, or even careers. Our purpose or calling in life can change based on our passions, strengths, or needs at any given time. One of the lessons of Parshat Vayera is that we as humans have been given something not even the angels have. We have the ability to change, and that is more powerful than any single purpose.
This is the story of Thelonious Monk and Danny Scher. It’s a tale about race relations, economics, violence on the streets, hope and despair. The possibility and limitations of activism. Even unanticipated unity. That’s a lot, because this story starts with the dream of a 16 year old boy to organize a concert at his high school in 1968.
There are countless true stories of artists, writers, actors, teachers, even rabbis, who have chosen a new direction much later in life. Parshat Lech Lecha jumps into Abraham's life much later than you’d expect, but it’s because his story really begins in the moment he made a choice to follow God and step into the role that changed the course of history.
A careful reader of the Torah, and indeed all of Tanakh (the Hebrew Bible), might notice that voting doesn’t much figure in the earliest strata of our sacred writings. In the rare cases where the popular will is depicted, such as in the rebellion of Korach, it doesn’t end well.
One of the parts of parenting that I struggle with the most is when my children’s actions have negative consequences, and they don’t understand they’ve brought it upon themselves. Because they are not developmentally ready to make that connection, they have no understanding that they played a role in causing those results. Instead, they blame me.