friday, july 27, 2012 .
letters to the editor the rabbi’s turn
“I’ve had very few people dislike it purely on the basis of the politics.”— Valerie Curtis-Newton, director of the Intiman performance of “Dirty Story.” Read more on page 20.
WRITE A LETTER TO THE EDITOR: We wold loe to hear fro o! Or gide to writig aletter to the editor ca be fod at www.jtews.et/idex.php?/letters_gidelies.htl,bt please liit or letters to approxiatel 350 words. The deadlie for the ext isse isJl 31. Ftre deadlies a be fod olie.
We dn’t have t g it alne
Rabbi Jill boRodin
Congrgation Bth Shalom
One o my goals or thissummer has been to exposemy 6-year-old twin daugh-ters to hiking. Over the pastcouple o weeks, we have goneout hiking twice. Te rst time,I picked an easy walk. Tis easy trail started out ne, but aerve minutes the whines anddemands or ininite breaksbegan and the interest in thehike waned. asty treats along the way andthe promise o ice cream got us arther, butwere not enough to get us to the end o the45-minute hike without incessant whining.Determined that exposure to the won-ders o the natural world is good or us, aweek ago we set out on our second hike.Tis time, wanting a more positive result, Istrategically invited another amily.Tis time I was delightully surprisedto see my kids happily running up thetrail ahead, eagerly pushing themselvesand trying new challenges, calling out inexcited cries, “Ima, did you see the shapeo that tree?” “Ima, listen to the birds.”“Ima, it’s so beautiul here.”Ma nishtana? What was dierent(besides now venturing on a our-houruphill hike)?I came prepared with better snacks,but more importantly, we weren’t alone.I ollowed the advice o Yehoshua benPrachyah rom Pirkei Avot (1:6): “Asehlecha rav, ukneh lecha haver.” “Select ateacher or yoursel; acquire or yoursel a riend.” I ound another amily o expe-rienced hikers and let them be our teach-ers. And I made sure my kids had haverim,riends or the experience.Tis teaching is usually understood toexplain that our orah learning is sharperand stronger when we study with a part-ner. While this is very much true or study-ing orah, it is also true or every othertype o learning, whether we want to learnhow to be more relective individuals,better parents, or just open to new possi-bilities.I we had gone alone on this hike, asel-ullling prophecy would likely haveclicked into place. I would have expectedmy kids to behave in a certain way, andlikely they would have allen into ourwell-ingrained patterns o amily dynam-ics. However, the variable o an addi-tional amily opened up the possibility o our leaving our entrenched patterns andhelped us travel new paths, ascend to new heights (literally), and create the space ornew possibilities to emerge.Since the success o this second hike, Ihave been reecting on what lessons can belearned and applied rom this experiment.How do we navigate to directtoward more positive experi-ences and the ability to ascendto new heights?Sadly, bad experiencesor negative dynamics otenbecome worse instead o get-ting better. Right now, we ndourselves in the Jewish calen-dar in the midst o the somberperiod o the three weeks (alsocalled “bein hameitzrim
between thenarrow places), which alls between the astdays o the 17th o ammuz and the 9th o Av (observed this year on July 8, the nighto July 28
and the day o July 29). We gorom the minor ast o the 17th o ammuz(which marks the day a number o calami-ties beell our people) to the major ast day o the 9th o Av (which marks a numbero even worse calamities that beell ourpeople). Can we imagine what would havehappened i we had been able to success-ully respond to the calamity o the Romansscaling the walls o Jerusalem on the 17th o ammuz and avoid their destruction o theSecond emple on the 9th o Av?On August 19 we will begin the new month o Elul. With Elul begins the o-cial traditional Jewish call to be reective(though all year long is also appropriatetiming), to do soul searching and to con-sider which relationships need improve-ment and which habits are harmul. Iturges us to change them or the better. Weare reminded that improvement is possi-ble, that we don’t need to be stuck in thenarrow places or descend to new lows, butthat new heights can be achieved. As ormerIsraeli Chie Rabbi Lau recently remindedus on his visit, we don’t need to accept“ma yehieh” — whatever will be —
but canorient ourselves to practice “ma na’aseh” —what will we do to make it better?My experiments with hiking thissummer demonstrated that by changingthe expected dynamics and adjusting ouramily’s normal relationship bonds, thebad did not get worse (which might havebeen expected as the hiking became longerand harder), and did not even stay bad.Instead, the result was a delightul sur-prise and accomplishment, a removal o the obstacles and blinders we had placedupon ourselves, allowing us to experiencenew beauty and connection.While it is easy to assume the continu-ation o negative patterns, habits and rela-tionships as inevitable, the possibility o improvement and growth is equally pos-sible and waiting around the corner, per-haps even accompanied by wonder andwateralls. We need to open ourselves upto the possibility that it can be there, andwork toward it, and gure out who thehaverim
(riends) and rabbanim
(teach-ers) are we need or our journeys. Andluckily or us, our religion has a way o making sure there are lots o edible treatsand ne ood to sweeten the journey.May we truly experience the sweet-ness o the New Year with renewed andstrengthened relationships, habits andoutlooks on lie.
In mEmORy OF DAvID BRumER
When we pass the “biblical” age of three score and ten, we begin to feel — as Saul Bellowsaid when he passed that milestone — that old friends are “dropping all around as on a bat-
tleeld.” Yet nothing could have prepared us for the sudden death of David Brumer (“A fare
well to David,” July 13), cut off in his intellectual prime, when his appetite for ideas and hisadroitness in handling them were at their most impressive. And who could miss the irony inthe fact that, in his hospice work of recent years, he was helping people come to terms withthe inevitability of death, but that he himself was taken completely by surprise when it came.I knew David in two capacities. For those of us who have parents resident in the KlineGalland nursing home, he was for many years the key gure there, not just a source of information but an exemplar of humane intelligence. David was also an exemplary, indeeda heroic, gure for the following reason: He understood, and acted upon the understand
-ing, that the defense of Israel against its innumerable enemies would require of liberals thekind of sustained exertion and courage in the realm of ideas and political action that Israelis
have had to manifest in the military defense of their country. That is why, although he prob
ably never forsook his youthful liberalism, he was a liberal tempered by experience, reec
tion, and renouncement. He understood that Jews must judge the New York Times by thestandards of Judaism, and not Judaism by the standards of the New York Times. He not only
knew things that most of us did not; he had the courage to act upon what he knew, to enter
into battle where the rest of us feared to tread.We shall miss him more than, at the moment, we can imagine. Baruch dayan emet.
Whr r th Munich
Edmon J. Rodman
JTA World Nws Srvic
LOS ANGELES (JA) — Tis year,isha b’Av marks not only the destruc-tion o both emples, but with the open-ing ceremony o the London Olympics just a night earlier, the 40th anniversary o the Munich massacre.On this day o mourning and asting,which begins at sundown on Saturday,how can we remember the tragedy o the1972 Summer Olympics, when 11 Israeliathletes and coaches were murdered?he International Olympic Com-mittee has rejected a call or a momento silence at the opening ceremony inmemory o those killed, announcinginstead a tribute in Munich and holdinga ceremony on Monday at the OlympicVillage with remarks by the IOC’s chie,Jacques Rogge.Even in 1972, I was already havingtrouble remembering.Returning to UCLA my sopho-more year, just weeks aer the tragedy,I remember being pushed by more seri-ous minds into working on an issue o the school’s Jewish student newspaper,Ha’Am, which at its center had a spreadtitled “Post Olympic Outpour.” At rst Iresisted, thinking “Why do I need to gothrough the pain all over again?”Now, 40 years later, I wonder how many o us are still resisting that pain.raditionally on isha b’Av, we remem-ber our tragedies by sitting on low seats orthe oor and chanting in a mournul tropethe book o Eicha (Lamentations). Inmany communities, elegies called kinot arechanted as well that commemorate suchtragic events as the massacre o GermanJews during the rst Crusades, the enMartyrs — which you may recall rom theYom Kippur Martyrology service — and,more recently, the Holocaust.It is rom the intent o the kinot thatI think we can nd an inspiration or adiferent orm o Munich elegy.