May 22 2008


Published by at 5:41 pm under Blogroll


Complacency is Not an Option

This morning, I arrived at my office, more than two hours late. Although I do not make a habit of this practice, my somewhat flexible schedule, allows me to designate my time, and therefore decide where to be and when to be there, as I see fit. This type of arrangement is pretty much a necessity for all clergy, as medical emergencies, funerals, and a host of other congregational needs, do not conform to a nine to five schedule.

But today, however, it wasn’t a crisis that was taking place now, but rather a commemoration of one that took place on that harrowing day, September 11, 2001, one that will live on in eternity.

I turned the News on at 8:45am

8:47 The bell tolls: The first Plane has hit Tower One

9:12 The bell tolls: The second plane hits Tower Two

9:42 The bell Tolls yet again. The Second tower collapses

10:30, the final bell, the North Tower is now gone, and all that is left is smoke and ashes.

All the while, between the bells which marked the stages of this calamity, each one of the victims’ names are recited, along with their age, and a small picture in the corner of the screen. As we watch in horror, my wife sees a child’s picture, and wonders aloud, what was a baby doing in the Towers? Until the horrific realization that this toddler must have been on one of the hijacked planes, the victims of which we sometime forget, in the enormity of terrible tragedy.

As the bells toll, and as the victim’s names are read, the is loud sobbing, people holding onto their love ones, and a clear sense that even though seven years have passed, the wounds for these relatives will always be open, no matter how hard they try to get on with their lives.

Which is why, on behalf of the victims’ relatives, I was so offended by what NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg had to say. One of the things most like about the Mayor, is that as an independent billionaire, he is not afraid to shoot from the hip. But his comments regarding today’s event, were insensitive at best if not altogether caustic.

Mayor Mike, in his infinite wisdom, had this to say about the future of these ceremonies.

“According to NY1 News Bloomberg stated that a permanent memorial will replace the need to read the victims’ names every year. “The one thing you don’t want to do is become complacent and bored with it,” said the Mayor.

Complacent and bored with it?

Tell that to the widows who were still pregnant on that fateful day and whose children never got to meet their dads.

Complacent and bored with ?

As I looked at the images streaming through my TV…the victim’s families, hugged, wailed, and cried – nowhere did I see complacency and boredom.

Complacent and Bored with it?

These people were standing in a literal graveyard

No, September 11th, 2001, will never be complacent, nor shall its victim’s be bored with it – whether it’s seven years after, seventeen, or even fifty seven years down the line.

Sorry you don’t get it Mr. Mayor, thank God you weren’t personally affected, because if you were, you would understand.

Next week, Jews from all walks of life, will gather together to usher in the New Year, known as Rosh Hashanah.

Perhaps the greatest thing about the Jewish Calendar is how it differs from the secular one, thereby giving freshness and new meaning to each holiday. The secular calendar works on a linear model, which is that each year that we move away from the original occurrence of the holiday, the feelings and emotions that were present when the events took place, have receded into our memories more and more as time goes on. Take the Fourth of July, 1777. No doubt it must have been an incredible celebration of our one year anniversary of freedom. Now, well over 300 years later, fireworks and a BBQ are all that is left. So too, each year that has passed since 9/11, the ceremony has been curtailed, because we have presumably lost the freshness of the event. One look at the families, however, tells a different story.

The Jewish calendar works on a circular system, which is that each year we come to the holiday,

We take the themes and lessons garnered from that period of time, and apply them to present day situations. So when Passover comes around, we are not merely combating the Exodus, rather we are asking ourselves, what does freedom mean to us, what does Torah mean to us, and therefore the Holiday never makes us complacent, because it is not merely an ancient relic. Commemoration. The Talmud tells us, for instance, that the Month of Adar, which is when Purim occurred, is a propitious time if one needs to go to court, as the constellation, or Mazal of the month is positive. When we celebrate Purim, we don’t merely commemorate, rather we try to get to the level of holiness that the Jews achieved that day, because we too, are in the Month of Adar, and can achieve the same holiness.

This is why the concept of rituals is so important. A holiday such as Passover is full of ritual, which has been handed down from generation to generation. We all remember how Grandma made the Matza Ball soup, and how Cousin Edna asked the four questions. Is it any wonder that an overwhelming percentage of Jews celebrate some type of Passover meal? For to them, it a ritual that is done and reinforced stronger and stronger with each year of its performance.

The upcoming Holidays are days that are certainly relevant, as they not only commemorate, but apply to us here, in the moment as well. “Hayom Harat Olam” On this day, the world was created, or more precisely, on this day human beings were created. And just as a company CEO,

re evaluates his/her gameplan, which includes the staff – so too, God evaluates each and every one of us, where we are, and where we ought to be. The books are open – what will our future be?

What is the secret to making it through the judgment process? By not becoming complacent. By making sure we are not bored. Let’s make the holidays relevant to us, our families, and all those around us. Pray from an English Machzor – Let’s bring with us some English literature to synagogue, either from the net or from book companies such as Do some simple Google searches on topics of interest. Try to attend an explanatory service – details to come shortly on ours. Realize that 6 hours in synagogue without a clue of what is going on, is most certainly not going to allow us to achieve our goals. We must make the days relevant, by not talking on too much at a time. Nowhere does it say that we need be Angels. But let us resolve to keep these days relevant in out hearts and our minds.

May the Lord inscribe us all in the book of Life, Health, and Happiness! To us and all of Israel.

Simone, Shmuel, Tamar, and Yissie, join me in wishing all a Happy Healthy and sweet new year. May our interest in Torah knowledge continue to always grow, and let us never become complacent with our role as Jews.