A Prayer for 2021
A Poem by Natan Alterman Z’L
Give us one year of true silence
A year of the white of the blossoms and the green of the grass
A year of passionate love and a warm home stove
That we for once experience that which is good and that which is pleasant.
A year without voices of hatred and cries of the bereaved
Without the sight of blood, without the beating of war drums
Without the paralyzing fear of the worst of all
Without the laughter of the future that is buried in the ground.
Behold, we are not pleading for the treasures of kingdoms
Nor for transcendent joy and high-end luxury cars
Just for a modicum of tranquility and white of blossoms
Which we can easily boast of.
To get excited once in a while from the smells of autumn
To gallop toward joy with the speed of a whistling locomotive.
Build us a tent of peace now
And may we be worthy of sitting in it.
Photo credit: 7-themes.com/collections/hdq-white-flowers-wallpapers/
A Thought on Recent Events
from Rabbi Daniel Alder
The stunning, unprecedented storming of the United States Capitol by mobs of right-wing protesters, incited by a sitting president and his followers, and fueled by antisemitic conspiracies, is heartbreaking.
One cannot say it any more clearly or powerfully than David Axelrod did on CNN.
"I am in tears today," said Axelrod, who was born on the Lower East Side, had his Bar Mitzvah at the Brotherhood Synagogue, and became President Obama's top adviser.
"I am the son of an immigrant who fled a country because of scenes like this and came to the United States because this is a country of law," Axelrod said. "I am in tears today to see this scene, because this is not an American scene and this was not a necessary scene."
This was a scene that was hard to believe. It is the country that President Trump has fostered throughout his term and by his refusal to concede a legally and fairly conducted election. As Jodi Rudoren of The Forward points out, there's a straight line from Charlottesville in August, 2017, when Trump said of the white supremacist rally that led to the death of a counter-protester, "There are very fine people on both sides" to the events that culminated in yesterday's riot and attempt to overturn democracy. The people who chanted, "Jews will not replace us" in Charlottesville were not fine people. Rep. Mary Miller, the newly elected Illinois Republican who told the Capitol Hill crowd waving Trump flags on Wednesday that "Hitler was right" about anything does not seem like a very fine person. Nor does the man in the mob that stormed inside who was wearing a "Camp Auschwitz" shirt.
"This temple to democracy was desecrated," said the likely new Senate Majority Leader, Chuck Schumer. "This will be a stain on our country not so easily washed away."
Each week we pray during our Shabbat service, when we recite the Prayer for our Country, we pray: "May citizens of all races and creeds forge a common bond in true harmony to banish hatred and bigotry, and to safeguard the ideals and free institutions that are the pride and glory of our country." This prayer is also a call to action, and we have much work to do to heal the deep wounds and divisions which afflict the United States.
May the incoming elected officials rise to the responsibility the voters have entrusted to them to bring healing and exercise responsible government.
Weekly Shabbat Services
While we are all home-bound, Village Yontif is excited to announce ongoing Shabbat services. We've been loving our weekly services, and the sense of community is restorative and healing. We hope that you will join us.
Services run approximately 90 minutes.
A one-time registration for each is required.
Friday evening, Kabbalat Shabbat Services begin at 7:30 pm EST.
Soft beautiful traditional Shabbat melodies, more of a time for profound story-telling than study.
Services led by Daniel Neiden. Stories from Shellen Lubin.
Saturday morning, Shabbat Services begin at 10:30 am EST.
Services led by Nancy Coren and/or Daniel Neiden. Commentary and reflection by Shellen Lubin.
Services are free. Donations are gratefully accepted.
In 2004, St. John's Lutheran Church offered to host Village Yontif, my outreach program providing free High Holy Day Services to the Greenwich Village community. The Village Yontif community was very generous. When the sizable donations were offered to the church, they were stunned and asked for suggestions of what they should do with the money. I only asked that they feel free to use the money to better the world in some way. With an audacious grace, this German Lutheran church was inspired to host an inter-faith Kristallnacht remembrance. The artistic heart of that service was a piece of modern dance theater for two, accompanied by live music and the physical shattering of glass on the church altar.
The response was visceral and heartbreaking, and gave birth to an annual Kristallnacht remembrance at St. John’s. Each year since that first time, Pastor Mark Erson has expanded the service with readings, hymns, Kaddish’s and memorial prayers, which have not only deepened the impact, but carried forth the pledge of “Zachor” (“Remember") and reaffirmed the desire to make sure this never happens again. Ours is a living service that changes a bit with each year, but its deeply moving centerpiece remains:
“The Dance of Broken Glass,
a performance for Kristallnacht”
The Dance of Broken Glass
A performance for Kristallnacht
*** VIDEO COMING SOON ***
Dance created and choreographed by Javier Baca
Overture to The Flying Dutchman by Richard Wagner, edited by Parker Stagmeier
Dance performed by Alli Bradley and Ben Roach
Dance directed by Daniel Neiden
Film directed and edited by Nick Lopez
Film produced by Daniel Neiden, and 27 Jesters
Special thanks to St. John's Lutheran Church's community, and Pastor Mark Erson, for their brotherhood and their generosity.
To see the full video of this year's service, click on the Kristallnacht Remembrance 2020 tile below.