OUR point of view is this: We believe that spirituality is defined individually, not universally. That money should never be a barrier to participation, but rather a personal expression of community. It’s a simple proposition. We didn’t invent it, we just believe it!
Rabbi Vann is writing the weekly Torah commentary for the Cleveland Jewish News this month. Her final August contribution is below.
Sometimes life is hard. And it isn’t fair.
This week, too many people are sick; too many have heard bad news that will alter the course of their lives. Too many people I care about are dying and have died.
Even for me- a rabbi—when things are particularly rough, I ask the question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?”
This enduring question is a tough one. For thousands of years sages and philosophers have debated and studied to find answers to assuage our pain and make meaning where there just doesn’t seem to be any.
As we look to this week’s Torah portion, Ekev, we note that the entire book of Deuteronomy can be difficult. At times, it implies that if one does not follow God’s rules, then any suffering is one’s due.
It’s also the book where we find this: “And now, O Israel, what does the Eternal your God demand of you? Only this: to revere the Eternal your God, to walk only in divine paths, to love and to serve the Eternal your God with all your heart and soul . . .” (Deuteronomy 10:12)
This verse teaches that God only expects us to do the best with what we’ve got. In this, we learn that God isn’t out to punish us—as we often assume. God wants us to rise to our best, and to know that the world that we encounter is filled with imperfections, tragedies, unexpected realities and more.
In 1981, Rabbi Harold S. Kushner wrote When Bad Things Happen to Good People. The book became a bestseller. You’ll note that he titled the book When…, and not Why.
What we do about the bad things– how we respond– that’s what is important.
Kushner wrote: “God does not cause our misfortunes. . . .Some are caused by bad luck, some are caused by bad people, and some are simply an inevitable consequence of our being human and being mortal, living in a world of inflexible natural laws.”
So this week, let us call out to God for comfort and support as we journey through this world that is imperfect and often painful. Let us feel God’s presence, knowing that we are striving to walk our holy path.
– Rabbi Allison Vann
How to Say “Yes, and” to Inclusion
We are so proud of the work that Rabbi Nyer continues to do to make inclusion a central component of our educational strategy. Congratulations Rabbi Nyer on the publication of your article “How to Say ‘Yes, and’” on the Union for Reform Judaism blog!
Friday, August 26, at 6 pm | Kabbalat Shabbat service: Shabbat Under the Stars with Kolot Kol Ami | Livestream
Saturday, August 27, at 9:15 am | Torah Study Gries Library
Wednesday, August 31, at 6 pm | Usher dinner
Friday, September 2, at 6 pm | Kabbalat Shabbat service with Torah reading | Livestream
Saturday, September 3, at 9:15 am | Torah Study Gries Library
Saturday, September 3, at 10:30 am | Bar Mitzvah: William Berick
Friday, September 9, at 6 pm | Kabbalat Shabbat service with special guest speaker, Dr. Holly Pederson | Livestream
Saturday, September 10, at 9:15 am | Torah Study Gries Library
Saturday, September 10, at 10:30 am | Bat Mitzvah: Carly Lehman
Friday, September 16, at 6 pm | Kabbalat Shabbat service | Livestream
Saturday, September 17, at 9:15 am | Torah Study Gries Library
Saturday, September 17, at 10:30 am | Bar Mitzvah: Gabe Schechtman
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