A couple of things to share today.
First, the High Holidays are right around the corner. And with them comes the reminder that we don't always make the right choices--however well-intentioned we may strive to be. Sometimes we are mean-spirited instead of kind-hearted. Sometimes we are too narrow and less gracious. As human beings, we sin. We miss the mark. It becomes necessary then, to restore our balance, our moral balance, if you will--a spiritual equilibrium made wobbly by the hurts we render. So then, the question is how do we restore this special balance? Through selichot, through seeking forgiveness. But the process of forgiveness is not always simple. In fact, it can be slow. Securing forgiveness, no less granting it, requires time and sometimes more than one try. So let's get started.
I look forward to welcoming you for our Selichot program, Saturday night, September 24 at 7:00 pm. We will learn and pray together.
Second, after two months of service to the Emanuel Congregation, I have acquired many meaningful insights. One is the importance of developing a wide-reaching Youth Engagement Initiative under our roof. In the spirit of the Union of Reform Judaism's ongoing Campaign for Youth Engagement, we, too, must inspire more young Jews to embrace Jewish life as a path to meaning, purpose and joy. In that spirit, I'd like to do a number of things going forward: a) meet every teen in our community and learn more about him or her; b) assemble a Youth Action Team, made up of teens and adults, responsible for helping us set a successful course; c) begin infusing the value of youth engagement in our youngest children and their parents and grandparents.
I was so happy and thankful to host two students at our home Saturday afternoon. We had a meaningful conversation about justice, focusing on the teaching in Deuteronomy: "Tzedek, tzedek tirdof: Justice, justice shall you pursue." (Deut. 16:20) And, we debated as to whether the teaching applies to the current protest of NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, raising awareness about racism and police brutality by sitting during the national anthem. We had a lively conversation, bringing Torah's wisdom to life. I know I speak for my colleagues, when I say that we look forward to hosting our teens each month. We look forward to welcoming all the teens at Emanuel-be it to Stepping Stones, ESTY (our senior youth group) and other fun experiences. We'll make sure you know all the details, so you and your teen can plan efficiently.
Wishing you a meaningful and productive Elul....
Rabbi Craig Marantz