Every Moment is the Moment We Were Made For

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"The very blessings of my sheltered life weigh heavily on my mind... How can I sit calmly in my study and formulate ideas of self-fulfillment when people are driven off their lands on which they have lived for generations...Then again, if I were to do nothing but yield to passive grief over the fate of the suffering millions of human begins, neither my lot nor theirs would be in the least improved."               

Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan, Diaries, Feb 7 1940

Blessings for this new secular year. In the past few weeks I have spoken with many of you about how we continue to stay spiritually awake, emotionally open-hearted and mindfully and physical activist as a new administration moves from pending to actual this month. The four areas described above comprise the classic four worlds of Jewish mysticism that, in harmony allow for tikkun/balance and equanimity within, and in relationship to, though not determined by external circumstance.

Thanks to the Library Committee's recently bringing one of our movements living treasures and Mordecai Kaplan's official biographer, Mel Scult, to Mishkan- I found the Kaplan quote above from his diaries in "Communings of the Spirit, Vol. 2". I felt his despair and I was energized by his commitment.

We have experienced peaks and valleys in our own Mishkan Shalom community in recent weeks. The death of Ron Abrams, was felt by our school children and teachers who knew him as the “puppet man”, and especially Men of Mishkan with whom he spent nine years in mutual support. We have rejoiced together as our young people took their place as adult members of our community, as new and ongoing members have brought new babies to be named or celebrated their own rights-of-passage and anniversaries. Showing up to share in all these moments of joy and sorrow is part of being in a covenantal community, whether we know someone well or not.

If you are not a regular prayer, join us and experience what we have been building these last few years. If you have wanted to learn and study, make the time and register for one of the many life-long learning classes starting this month through May. Explore, deepen, stretch, show-up for yourself and each other in ways you may have written off or characterized yourself as "not that type." In the Four Worlds, I described above- note your strengths and reflect on the areas you can engage in to broaden your Jewish and human connection.

We are not sitting passively as a community waiting for events to unfold. We are organizing for change and against intolerance and injustice. At the same time, we are continuing to explore new forms of engagement through our community connections board (thank you Sharon Gornstein and Marcy Boroff), winter months Shabbat school pilot program following a dynamic December debut, and (thanks to member Jane Lipton) a special Friday night potluck and event on Main Street in Manayunk with accapella group ShirAppeal. I encourage all of us to seek out moments of joyful, creative expression, Jewish learning and practice, and community connection as a way of renewing ourselves as we participate in actions small and large to stand for our deepest values and aspirations in the face or perceived and actual divisiveness in our culture.

This is one of the main motivations for Brian Walt, our founding rabbi, and our founding members coming together as Mishkan Shalom in January of 1988. To stand for inclusion and diversity, life-long learning and traditional/innovative spiritual practice, a commitment to the well-being of our city, mutual self-determination and peace for Israelis and Palestinians, activism for justice and lovingly caring for each other. Therefore, we gather now and take strides towards realizing our statement of principles, even more now than ever. Every moment is the moment we were made for. Now is the moment we, who are Mishkan Shalom at this liminal moment in history, are called to together to meet.

Monday, January 16th, we will join dozens of other Philadelphia congregations, unions and organizations for a major march in Philadelphia. If you have not participated in our work in POWER or the New Sanctuary Movement to date- now is the time. Mishkan member Rabbi Michael Ramberg is now a board member of NSM, and Lisagail Zeitlin is now a member of the POWER board and Steve Newman, Julie Currie and Margaret Lenzi help lead our core team. The issues of full fair funding of our education system, immigration and welcoming refugees, challenging racial injustice and ending mass incarceration, green jobs and economic dignity are front-and-center in our local as well as larger community. There will be 100 days of activism training on a variety of issues following the march to energize and equip us with perspectives and tools to meet the many challenges the recent election we are facing.

At the same time, know that random acts of kindness, radical acts of love and compassion, non-violently standing or justice in all forms, all make a difference- they do.

We are re-energizing our Sustainable Mishkan team later this month under the leadership of new member Julie Meyers. We have a special presenter from the newly formed and active Northwest Philly Solar COOP during our potluck and service on Friday, January 27th. I hope you will join us regardless of where you live to learn about this new exciting venture. Please be in touch with Julie Meyers, Rabbi Yael or I if you want to get involved.

I hope you will participate in the many opportunities to strengthen our community by deeper engagement this coming month, and throughout the year ahead. Hazak V'Nithazek- Let us be strong strong and strengthen each other. Every moment is the moment we were made for- let us rise to the day and live fully "in all worlds".

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