I am blessed to have a lot to be thankful for this year. We recently celebrated the bar mitzvah of our son Jonah with many family and friends and a great community. I want to thank everyone at Adath for help making the bar mitzvah so special.
A family simcha really helps to put things into perspective. As both the rabbi and the father of the bar mitzvah boy, I loved looking out at the congregation and seeing so many special people, from so many different parts of our lives. These moments are the only times when these configurations of people will all be together.
Thanksgiving is another opportunity to reflect on the joys of life but in a different way. While some people do something different each Thanksgiving, others have family traditions that they repeat every year. Unlike a unique family celebration, the yearly holiday offers the chance to find comfort in the familiar.
One such tradition in our community is the yearly Lawrence Interfaith Thanksgiving Celebration which takes place the Tuesday before the holiday. Each year we gather in a different location to come together and reflect on what we are thankful for, while demonstrating the diversity of our township.
This year our theme was Light in the Midst of Darkness, which was inspired by the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting. It seems that our country is lately consumed by darkness and violence. We need to add as much light as possible by transcending the differences that keep us apart.
Adath hosted the event this year and it was heartening to hear Christian, Jewish and Muslim prayer in our sanctuary. Only by coming together can we fight the hate, anti-Semitism and racism that plagues us. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
I hope that as we gather around our tables for Thanksgiving, that we reflect upon the light in our lives. What experiences, people and organizations inspire you? How can you bring more light into the world? In what shadowy corners and rooms can you light a match and drive out the darkness.