Our High Holy Day liturgy forces us to confront the uncertainty of our world, to acknowledge the precarious nature of our existence, and to appreciate the precious gifts of safety and comfort that we enjoy. The horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas and the ongoing suffering of those in Puerto Rico are sad, visceral reminders of human tragedy and misfortune.
As we mourn the loss of life and pray for the recovery of our fellow citizens, there are a number of ways in which we can respond materially to these events.
First, let us never become inured to the enormity of natural disasters, no matter how frequently they may seem to strike. Temple Israel is in the process of organizing a hurricane relief mission for this fall. Each of us will have the opportunity to participate or contribute to this effort in significant ways. We will keep you posted as plans are solidified. If you are interested in participating in a relief mission, email Bryan Bierman. And if you prefer to make a contribution to immediate disaster relief we can recommend Project HOPE.
Second, let us never become resigned to a “new normal” of regular mass shootings. Temple Israel stands with Rabbi Rick Jacobs of the Union for Reform Judaism who said, “Rather than revere gun rights our country must finally revere human life.” This is why we have strongly supported the Do Not Stand Idly By campaign for gun safety. Thanks to the efforts of members of our congregation, the Westport Police Department recently signed on to the DNSIB initiative to bring smart guns to the marketplace, which we believe will make all of our communities safer. We are currently pursuing this issue with other jurisdictions here in Fairfield County. To engage with our Do Not Stand Idly By campaign, email Congregations Organized for a New CT (CONECT) board members Alan Nudelman and Cindy Zuckerbrod. You can also learn more about local gun safety efforts through Connecticut Against Gun Violence or attend CAGV’s candlelight vigil on Wednesday, October 4 at 7:30 pm at the Burr Homestead, 739 Old Post Rd., Fairfield, CT.
Third, we are in the process of organizing a blood drive in honor of those injured and killed in Las Vegas. This drive will be co-sponsored by other local institutions. Again, we will let you know more as details are solidified.
Fourth, one way to cope with the frustration and despair evoked by these events is to be together as we celebrate Sukkot throughout this week. Sukkot urges us to physically live out the messages of the High Holy Days liturgy: we build flimsy booths, intentionally exposing ourselves to the elements, with the hope of identifying more closely with the fragility of life and our appreciation for our bounty.
Women’s Group Gathering in the Sukkah
Wednesday, Oct. 4 at 7:00 pm
Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
Sukkot Service at The Conservative Synagogue
Thursday, Oct. 5 at 9:30 am
30 Hillspoint Rd., Westport
First Friday (Sukkot & Simchat Torah)
Friday, Oct. 6 at 5:30 pm
With eternal hope for better days ahead,
Rabbi Michael S. Friedman
Cantor Dan Sklar
Rabbi Danny Moss