There’s a beautiful story in The New York Times about Jewish and Muslim families spending time together to get to know each other. Fighting against both anti-Semitism and Islamophobia intimate dinners are shared to get to know each other. Candles are lit, children are blessed and stories are shared about maintaining a unique religious life in our diverse city.
PatchWorks Films have produced some beautiful movies that deal with Jewish and Interfaith Stories. These films provide tools for schools and synagogues and churches to explore Interfaith and intercultural complexities.
check them out at
I had the honor to officiate at an Interfaith Wedding, here in the city, on Saturday. The couple wrote their vows, and asked me to do a contemporary reading of the Seven blessings. I read part of the prayer in Hebrew and part of it in English. They were sensitive to many of the gusts not understanding Hebrew. We did the traditional blessing over the wine and the groom broke the glass.
My Christian colleague offered the blessing of the candles in memory of those who were with us only in spirit. He also introduced a reading as well as a introduction about both faiths.
There was a lot of joy in midtown as two kindred souls were united in a blessed marriage.
It was a beautiful Fall day and the bride wore white, the groom was in Indian garb and the restaurant was a glow. The mother’s lit candles, the father’s gave their blessings and the groom and bride circled around each other seven times. Prayers of joy, and love and hope were recited by the siblings of both families. The groom wore a garland and the bride carried roses. We read poems from the psalms and we read a Hindu poem of love:
You have become mine forever
Yes we have become partners.
I have become yours.
Hereafter, I cannot live without you.
Do not live without me.
Let us share the joys.
We are word and meaning, unite.
You are thought and I am sound.
In the Jewish Tradition From the Song of Songs, Shir Hashirim
I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.
The flowers appear on the earth, the time for singing has come..
Set me as a seal upon your heart and seal upon your arm…
My love, come away, I am my beloved and my beloved is mine.
I was offering a workshop at Huntington Jewish Center. We were exploring courage. What is it that stops us from going forward? What is it that propels us forward? We came up with many answers. The most common thread was: there is that moment in our lives where we can’t stay where we are. We have to respond and move out of stagnation. It doesn’t necessarily feel brave when this ‘event’ occurs. In retrospect, it was a life-changing moment. We ended our learning with this poem from Sheila Peltz Weinberg:
Dear God, God of our mothers and fathers.
Renew us this month and this year
Toward goodness and blessing
Toward the joyful
Toward liberation and challenge, as well as
Toward patience and consolation
Toward becoming ever more human beings
Let us become capable of supporting ourselves
Our families and friends,
Let us serve our community in dignity.
Toward life and peace
Toward observing our blindness
Toward struggling with our goals
Toward forgiving ourselves and each other
Your brought us near with an intension
You gave us the awareness of the cycles of the moon.
May we use our gift as an opportunity
To understand what you intend for us.
Thank you for inviting us to share your holiness and
This holy moment of the New Moon
is great and so is getting good reviews. The best though are the meetings, and conversations. I get to spend time with couples and listen to their plans and aspirations. I see the support and love that each is bringing to the marriage. My only question is “how can I help?”
These past few weeks I’ve had conversations with many people who are in flux, transition, or just trying to figure out their lives and what’s next. This morning I remembered this wonderful poem by the great Mary Oliver. I’d like to offer it to you:
You do not have to be good
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles
through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
ar moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting-
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
I’m about to teach a class at the JCC here on Long Island. I was searching for a poem about wisdom and getting older. I found this gem that I’d like to share with you. It’s written by Alex Witchel and comes from “The Spare Wife.” Please post your reactions.
The Older I get the more I see there are these crevices in life where things fall in and you just can’t reach them to pull them back out. So you can sit next to them and weep or you can get up and move forward. You have to stop worrying about who’s not here and start worrying about who is.