Rabbi Neil F. Blumofe offers his remarks at Interfaith Action of Central Texas’ interfaith Thanksgiving service:
While we are privileged to be here – I must say that today, many of us are weary – many of us are just tired. I’ve been thinking — it was 153 years ago last month, at a dedication of a cemetery in Gettysburg, Pa., in one of the lowest moments of this nation’s history, that President Abraham Lincoln reminded a fractured nation that we shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from this Earth.
We must show up for each other. We must continue our work. We are called upon to offer spiritual resistance — to stem the tide of suspicion, fear and hate-mongering. Let us cherish facts and the truths that we hold to be self-evident — that all people are entitled to a chance in a system that supports them. That we have a moral obligation to feed the hungry and clothe the naked, and visit the sick, and comfort the mourner — and stand up for those oppressed, and stand with those who are victimized — and stand up for those in danger — and to know that we are not alone. We must not be alone.
For we are at a moment where uncertainty is rising.
We must rise to recommit ourselves to common core values and we must awaken to promote enduring soul values in this world — to accept the challenge of our holy Scripture and to do what is right in the eyes of the Lord. Our prophets teach us — awake, awake, ye slumberers — rise up from our sleep. Let each of us find common ground to protect the defenseless, to comfort those in fear, to work for justice for all, to be more loving and attentive in every aspect of our daily lives. Amen.
We are called into service as our ancestors were called into service. We listen to the hearts all around us that have been broken open.
We can see the world as half full or half empty. We can choose. The power that is stored up within each of us is exceedingly great. Let each of us go forth and joyfully meet our God. Let our spirit soar to the very heavens — for we, each of us is created in God’s image. Let us now act.
I have just come to this magnetic place after a concert in my own synagogue – Congregation Agudas Achim. We hosted the Holocaust Survivor Band, a group that plays music with defiant joy, in the wake of terror. Two men lead that band. One who is 89 and one who is 91. Each undaunted — and let us, too, say to our neighbor — walk with me awhile, for we have been here before. We have been here before. We need each other — for our dignity, grace, and self-respect.
Today we have come to dedicate a portion of our field — let us awaken and yet act in ways — morally, ethically, honorably, and virtuously that is befitting of our stature and our claim to be truly free.
As we celebrate this Season of Light. May we be blessed in each others light — to live a life of fullness and significance.
And may God bless us and all of our efforts.