The New Year is upon us and I hope that you will enjoy our worshiping together and know a year filled with many meaningful moments, productive accomplishments, good health, and a deep sense of purpose and fulfillment.This year the congregation is invited to consider ways that we as individuals can practice the fine art of listening to one another better and engaging in respectful dialogue, even with those with whom we disagree. Through classes, sermons and community dialogues we hope to help all of us create a better culture of constructive conflict and tolerance.
Of course, respectful behavior is not only about techniques for communicating. There is also a need for basic goodness, a commodity that seems to be in short supply in our nation’s public discourse. In other words, the purpose of our lives in part should be about cultivating kindness. This is all too often counter intuitive.
On the first day of the new school year, all the teachers in one private school received the following note from their principal:
I am a survivor of a concentration camp. My eyes saw what no man should witness:
Gas chambers built by learned engineers.
Children poisoned by educated physicians.
Infants killed by trained nurses.
Women and babies shot and burned by
high school and college graduates.
So I am suspicious of education.
My request is: Help your students become human.
Your efforts must never produce learned monsters,
psychopaths, educated Eichmanns.
Reading, writing, arithmetic are important only if
they serve to make our children more humane.
The High Holy Days remind us that knowledge is important, but so is goodness. We wish each other a “good” New Year, not a happy New Year in part to remind us that the task ahead is to promote more goodness and justice.
Temple Sholom is excited to be part of your journey of communal kindness and mutual respect.
May we all have a good New Year!
Rabbi Edwin Goldberg