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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.
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.
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.
Some words of Torah. We live in a country that has copyright law and protections for intellectual property. Ultimately, those laws are on the books primarily for commercial reasons. While these rules have their inspiration, therefore, in economic concerns, they also assume that there is something such as creativity. Specifically, they assume that inventors, businesses and artists can bring into the world something novel, something that didn’t exist before.
Yesterday, the Nobel Committee awarded its prize for literature to a very worthy writer, the American poet Louise Glück. Her verse is stark, controlled, tight. You read her poems, and you think, “the words are simple, the lines are clear, but their meaning is elusive.” That would bother some. For other readers, that is the source of their power and grace.
By now, you are aware that the president and first lady have contracted coronavirus. Among some rabbis, people were asking, should we include the president’s name on our misheberach list? Should we offer prayers of healing?
Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg left her chambers for the final time in the waning minutes of 5780. Learning of her death two hours before our Erev Rosh Hashanah services felt like a punch to the gut. What a devastating loss to our nation.