Honorable Mensch-ion

Learning from Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel would interview students entering Rabbinical school. He once asked, “If you were stranded alone in Antarctica, what is one thing you could not live without.” The student trembled in fear, unsure of how to answer this great Rabbi. A Torah? A mezuzah? A siddur? After a few moments, Heschel responded, “If I were you I would take a winter coat.”

Heschel, deeply versed in Jewish tradition, also lived in the reality of the world.

It is no surprise that Heschel authored the essay, “No Religion Is An Island.”

He writes, “We are all involved with one another. Spiritual betrayal on the part of one of us affects the faith of all of us. Views adopted in one community have an impact on other communities. Today religious isolationism is a myth.”

Perhaps it is no coincidence that we celebrate UNITY SHABBAT at Sinai Temple, celebrating the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr, at the same time we honor the 50th yahrzeit of Rabbi Heschel. These two faith leaders marched hand in hand, a task that is as ever important today as it was over five decades ago.

In his I Have A Dream Speech, Dr. King said, “Out of a mountain of despair, a stone of hope.”

It is easy to see a mountain in front of our eyes, too difficult to climb. It is difficult to see a stone, a pebble, mixed into its surrounding environment. Yet, when that stone of hope is uncovered, as Heschel wrote, “We meet as human beings who have so much in common: a heart, a face, a voice, the presence of a soul, fears, hope, the ability to trust, a capacity for compassion and understanding, the kinship of being human.”

Celebrate UNITY SHABBAT with us at Sinai Temple. Our presence is power, united as one.

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