July 2016, from the clergy

Every evening we recite the Ma’ariv Aravim prayer: “Praised are you, Adonai our God, Sovereign of the universe, who speaks the evening into being…”  A few nights ago I drove home from URJ Camp Newman into the most gorgeous sunset.  The sky was filled with cloud formations of pink and red and orange, almost as if it were set on fire.  On the other side of the horizon was the incredible strawberry moon, a “once-in-a-generation” event, as one news article quoted.  As we drove through Napa Valley in this beautiful setting, I couldn’t help but think, “We are truly blessed.  Radical amazement at it’s finest.  And I’m exhausted.”

This month, our son Noah turns three months old.  Leading up to Noah’s birth, people offered their advice and time and again told me that time would fly.   Since he was born, I have found myself watching him day in and day out as he changes, grows, and turns into a charming baby boy, complete with growing finger nails, ever changing sleep patterns, and the most beautiful smile and little giggle that fills our lives with such joy and excitement.

The Ma’ariv Aravim prayer helps to remind us that everyday God renews creation, rolling light away from darkness and darkness from light.  But my darkness that was once filled with blissful sleep has now succumbed to middle-of-the-night feedings and a hope for just two more hours of shut-eye.  And that darkness, my darkness, feels safe, warm, and filled with love and light in our own home.

That same comforting darkness does not exist for many in our world today.

3 weeks ago, 49 people were killed in Orlando, FL, in a room filled with a darkness that many of us cannot ever imagine.  That week was filled with a deep sadness and anger that filled my body and wrenched my soul.  And every time I look at my innocent little boy in my arms, every time he smiles, I can’t help but feel so sad for the world in which we live, and pray for a change in the world  for the future of all of our children.

Each night when we put Noah to sleep, my husband Yoni and I sing the words of Sh’ma and Hashkiveinu to him while he lies in his cradle.  Shelter us beneath thy wings, O Adonai.  Guard us from all harmful things.  Keep us safe throughout the night ’til we wake with morning’s light.  Teach us, Eili (my God), wrong from right.

May we work together to build a world that is safe, both throughout the night and also when we wake with morning’s light.  May we provide a shelter for one another that teaches goodness, wholeness, and peace.  I hope that one day our Noah, our family, our community, and the rest of the world may only know a darkness that is safe, a country that is safe, a world that is safe and filled with peace.

Oseh shalom bimromav hu ya’aseh shalom aleinu v’al kol Yisrael v’al kol yoshvei teivel, v’imru: Amen.  May the One who makes peace in high places make peace for us, for all of Israel and for all who inhabit the earth, and let us say: Amen.

~Rabbi Lara

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