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November Message from Rabbi Louis Zivic, D.D.

Dear Folks: Thank you from the bottom of my heart to the top for your generous response to my appeal for funds for the Rabbi’s Discretionary Fund. It is a wonderful example of tzedakah, your generosity will help many of our fellow citizens of the United States cope with the terrible disasters that the weather has visited upon them. Food is the fuel that helps folks to rise to their feet and get on with the work of rebuilding their shattered worlds. Elsewhere in this bulletin you will find a Prayer of Thanksgiving sent by the Northern Plain’s Reservations in response to our gift. I hope that many of you will use it in addition to Ha-motzi, as you sit down to your Thanksgiving meal. We need to give thanks for the means which God has provided us and the spirit which moves us to help others. I also give thanks to Sussy Schneider and Dr. Tom Kantor for their work enabling us to have a smooth running service. There will never be enough words to thank Hazzan Leah Littin for her beautiful rendition of the High Holiday liturgy. Perhaps our best thanks is offered when we sit in awe at the power and sensitivity of her voice and our participation with her in the music of our faith. No teaching experience is complete without a review of the lesson. This year’s lesson(s) for the Yamim Noraim was about the power that rabbis of the past were reputed to have. I spoke of the genius of Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrcanu, a rabbi of first century Judea to illustrate that being incredibly knowledgeable and intelligent does not necessarily make one wise, nor is a “committee” composed of such rabbis necessarily any wiser. The inability of Rabbi Eliezer and the rest of the first century rabbis to hear each other led to great tragedy despite their knowledge. A second rabbi that I spoke about was Rabbi Judah Lowe who lived in late medieval Prague. Through his knowledge and saintliness, he was able to create a golem, a creature made of clay and animated by God’s name to protect the Jewish people of his time and place. I hope that we learned from this that knowledge about the Jewish people will always be our best defense, even though it still seems as there will be times when an appropriate physical defense of Jews may still be necessary. II f I had to write words for a t-shirt or a bumper sticker for this time it would read; “study Torah and practice shooting.” In the sermon for yizkor on Yom Kippur, I finished the events begun by Rabbi Eliezer and his colleagues by combining my words with original text of a martyrology that is generally not used by non -fundamentalist synagogues. I suspect that it has been either eliminated or truncated in current makhzorim because of 20th century American Jewry’s guilts about the Holocaust and a desire to be current or relevant. In my sermon, I hope that I demonstrated that tragedy and courage are always current. The martyrdom of Jews today or one thousand years ago have the same currency and the same meaning i.e. there are times when we may be expected to sacrifice ourselves for our beliefs. I pray that these times never come again, but current events seem to prove that my prayer has not yet been answered affirmatively by God. We must pray harder and do more mitzvoth, such as tzedakah, to be heard and blessed by God.

With trust in God’s goodness, I remain
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