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diversity makes us stronger!

11/28/2016 12:06:16 PM

Nov28

Diversity Makes Us Stronger!!!

To My Beth Am Family,

 

Soon we will sit down at our dining room tables to celebrate the time honored tradition of Thanksgiving. There are many beautiful rituals connected to this holiday, such as watching the Thanksgiving day parade, playing football, and of course the proverbial eating of the Thanksgiving meal. I am sure that I’m not alone in also reminding us of the tradition of going around the table and sharing personal thoughts about thankfulness.

 

It is precisely because of this tradition that I am writing you. I hope on whatever device you are reading this, you are able to see the picture that I have attached. In that picture, please note the diversity of colors, genders, and dress. The picture was taken at this year’s Interfaith Thanksgiving Service that took place this past Sunday evening. I was so honored to pray, sing, and experience God’s presence with Christian, Muslim, and Jewish brethren at the Islamic Center in Mohegan Lake. The experience was powerful and I believe that the messages of that evening will stay with me for many years to come.

 

I wanted to share with you one of the most important lessons I learned that night - the beauty and importance of diversity. This year’s service was more diverse and eclectic than any prior year. We prayed together using words of the Koran. We sang together using words from our rabbinic Sages. We even praised the eternal using Native American traditions. What I learned was that without the diversity, the evening would have been stale. Without the many different perspectives, the evening would have been lackluster. Without the full spectrum of religious thought and practice, the evening would have been almost meaningless. But all of the colors and hues of our religious traditions were present and palpable. It filled all of our souls to know that we were not alone on our journeys of creating this world in God’s image. Though it was obvious to all that we might disagree on many things, we felt united in our diversity, because we were standing and praying with our diverse selves shining for the entire world to see. And because of that action, I believe, we could touch the presence of God.

 

So when you are asked at your Thanksgiving table, “What are you thankful for?” I would ask each of you not only to talk about how you are thankful for your family and your friends. I also want to ask each of you to add “diversity” to the list. For with diversity and differences of opinion, we as human beings have always been able to move forward. So if you have individuals that look, think, or act differently than you sitting at your table, have a little patience for them. Give them an extra hug. And let them know that you are thankful they are in your life making your journey that much more colorful, beautiful, and blessed because they are different from you.

 

May we all know peace and love throughout this season,

 

Rabbi Robert Weiner
 
 
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