Shalom and Hello,
Earlier this month, just after the Jewish community gathered for Tisha B’Av, the yearly commemoration of the destruction of the Temple and other tragedies in history, I stood in Belfast on Shankill Road. This was the epicenter for the battle between unionist Irish Catholics (who wished to unite with the independent Republic of Ireland) and Northern Ireland loyalist Protestants (who wished to remained tied to Great Britain) during the late 60’s and 70’s. Shaken by the tragedies of neighbors terrorizing their own neighborhood for generations, Shankill Road represents the time known by the Irish simply as The Troubles. It was a time of suspicion and guerilla warfare where someone who wanted to visit their local pub would be forced to pass through three steel doors just to enter and prove their sympathies.
Many sectarian walls still stand in testament to that time. Memory remains raw and a barrier still stands separating neighbors. Yet as I visited, I beheld a massive wall of another kind taking shape. It is covered in art murals and graffiti--not of hatred, but of hope. Community members young and old, Protestant and Catholic, have taken to creating art expressing a desire for change and understanding between neighbors. It is a call for renewing the possibility and potential for something that is the opposite of hatred and name-calling – an artistic call born of friendship-- the beauty, power, passion and remarkable promise that friendship carries.
Approaching the New Year it is a time to revisit the “walls” that we have created in our lives. It is a time for commemoration, for reaching out to friends and family members, for honoring what they have meant to us over the years, for supporting the ties that bind us and the relationships that have been cultivated. To do this, we must examine the quality of friendship that we offer to others and take time for reflection, an essential component to our beginning anew this Jewish New Year. Take the time. It will be worth it. Tisha B’Av and Shankhill Road serve as reminders of hope that can emerge from the ashes of hate, ruin and destruction.
Our tradition is filled with inspiring and important messages, and I look forward to joining hands in prayer, and renewing the bonds of community in song and in friendship.
Erev Rosh Hashanah - Sunday, October 2, 2016 7:30PM
Rosh Hashanah - Monday, October 3, 2016 10AM
Kol Nidre - Tuesday, October 11, 2016 7:30PM
Yom Kippur - Wednesday, October 12, 2016 10AM
Yizkor 12:30PM (no tickets required for Yizkor, discussion and Neilah)
Discussion with the Rabbi 4PM