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October 2017 - Message from the Rabbi

rabbi gary mazoShanah Tovah to one and all!

In my High Holy Day sermons, I spoke of a wonderful Unity rally held in our community in September. I know many were not able to be in attendance, so in my article this month I would like to share my remarks from the rally.

From Seeds of Diversity to a Harvest of Unity
Our Call to Action

For we Jews here today, we have come together at our holiest time of the year. We come at a time when we are supposed to be searching our souls for our highest selves, making amends to those we have wronged and setting our course upon the path that God wants us to walk.

In the Talmud – in the section known as Pike Avot – The Ethics of our ancestors, we learn: It is not up to you to finish the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.Today, we celebrate the unity that is made up of this patchwork of diversity in our community. Unity is important, but it is not enough. Where do we go from here? What is our task leaving this gathering today?

For me, I find that answer in the wisdom of three individuals– a Muslim, a Christian and a Buddhist. One teaches us about Service, one teaches us about "Change" and one teaches us about "Love."

Mohammad Ali taught us about service. He said that: "Service to others is the rent you pay for your time here on earth." When we live in a divided world – a country that seems to be filled with hatred, bigotry and ugliness – we can make a difference. We can dedicate ourselves to serving others to show those around us another way – a better way to be. If you are angry....serve others and bring them peace and happiness. Volunteer at United Caring Services or the Food Pantry or Aurora. Help build a habitat home, serve meals at a shelter, clean up our city, read to kids at our neediest schools – do something to serve others in our community.And while we are at it – we can all help those recovering from the devastating storms in Texas and Florida. Make donations, send gift cards to local agencies to help people rebuild – show that compassion rules the day.

President Barak Obama taught us that: "Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we have been waiting for. We are the change that we seek." If we are the change we seek, we cannot respond to the hatred that we see around us with more hatred. We only perpetrate more hate if all we do is criticize and insult. We know what we don’t like – let’s work to fix it. We want a country that respects all – then we must show respect to all. We want a country that allows for those seeking refuge to call this place home – as did our ancestors – then we need to become activists for immigrants, we need to be the defenders of "The Dreamers" by being vigilant with our senators and representatives. Write letters, call their offices, meet with them – we can be the change.

Lastly, I learn from the Dalai Lama that: "The more you are motivated by love, the more fearless and free your action will be." We need to be the ones to demonstrate the Biblical Mandate of "Loving our Neighbor." We need to show and demonstrate a respect for one another. We don’t defeat the Islamaphobe by shouting and insulting. We defeat the Islamaphobe by all going to the Islamic Food festival on October 8th and showing our support and love for our dear friends in the Islamic community. We defeat anti-Semitism by taking the time to learn about Judaism, we defeat homophobia by simply celebrating love and affirming the LGBT members of our community and we defeat racism by not just saying that "Black Lives Matter" but by acknowledging that both institutional and economic racism still runs rampant in this country and needs to come to an end. We must once and for all work to eliminate racism, work for true equality and dignity and show those who hate that love is far stronger.

The task is great, the work is hard and it is not for us to finish this work – but we can no longer desist from trying. We are stronger together and we can model that E truly is for everyone. So, I urge you to leave here today with your own plan of action to make things better – to do something to help restore the balance in our country that seems to be tipping in the wrong direction. Serve others, be the change and show love whenever possible.

I Hope 5778 is a good, happy and sweet year for one and all!

B'shalom,

Gary A. Mazo, Rabbi