We live in an age of hate.
A couple of weeks back, we dealt with attacks against the Jewish and Muslim communities here in Portland. This past week has continued to shock and dishearten us. In Laguna Woods, California, a Chinese émigré to America entered a Taiwanese church killing one and injuring five. The death toll would have been far higher if not for heroic action undertaken by the elderly members of the church.
Since the leak of the Supreme Court draft document that would overturn Roe vs. Wade, many of us have been riding a wave of shock, a shock that momentarily silenced me. I seem constitutionally built in such a way that I not only “see” multiple perspectives, but very often also feel the moral dimensions of complicated issues.
I recently received an email from the journalist Bari Weiss that included helpful advice on living, penned by Kevin Kelly in honor of his 70th birthday. Some of the advice was both humorous and true: “Don’t keep making the same mistakes; try to make new mistakes.” In other words, take chances in life and learn from them.
This will be my last Oasis Song until I return from sabbatical. It got me thinking. There are many ways to say bon voyage to someone about to depart on a journey: Godspeed, have a good trip, an easy flight, happy landing, hasta la vista, and so on.
Earlier this week, a parent contacted me. The person’s children wanted to know if it was still safe to go to synagogue. It’s heartbreaking and understandable that people would be worried after last week’s hostage situation at Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas. Watching events unfold in real-time brought up many different emotions. Horror, outrage, fear, sadness, or even numb resignation. Few of us felt all these emotions, but most of us experienced at least one.
As I see it, there are two primary types of inclusion. One is a basic requirement of a democracy and is fundamental to the national identity. The other form of inclusion furthers a specific mission. Both types of inclusion can be valuable, but since they have different goals, it is important to distinguish between the two.
I want to notify you that I will be taking a sabbatical from February through April. We all know that this pandemic has made it difficult to make plans or travel arrangements, and for quite a long time, it was unclear to me how I could take a break or what options would even be available during this “new normal.” At the encouragement of our capable lay leadership, we mutually decided to break up my sabbatical over two years. This decision has led to a quick turn around in scheduling.