Forgiveness and Thanks
I hope everyone is abiding peacefully in an excess of thanksgiving. There is so much to be grateful for. I hope the blinders that often separate us from our gratitude are gone today, and we can get lost in the ecstatic grace of thanks.
I walked the cold street yesterday and felt for those few minutes, the rare feeling of holiday in America. Businesses and restaurants closed; for a few hours, a day or so, a cessation of the consumerism that dominates the rest of our time. We’re sold a message that stuff will fill us up, sate our incompleteness. But it never does. In fact, it’s the opposite: rest, cessation, holiday, sacred time, family, custom, tradition – all of these are the stuff that give the taste of wholeness. For these, I am grateful. Strangely, I was reminded of the feeling of Shabbat amid the quiet streets of Jerusalem. They take this kind of rest weekly; cessation of commerce, restoration of soul.
Behind the abundance, there is also the pain of the Native Americans, whose land we are giving thanks upon. There is a relationship between forgiveness and thanks. As much as human beings are capable of goodness, we have also caused tremendous suffering in our history. The annihilation of Native Americans, the enslavement of Africans, the Holocaust, the maintenance of systems of oppression – are among the greatest sins of humanity. None of us participated in those atrocities, and skin color and ancestry do not implicate the generations of the future. But those who committed such evils are dead and the world, the descendants, have yet to see forgiveness.
As sisters and brothers to all people it’s upon us to ask forgiveness for the sins of the past, even if we did not commit them. Our gratitude will grow when there is less to stand in its way.
In the coming weeks and months, The New Shul will partner with New Sanctuary Coalition, an immigrant’s rights organization, led by immigrants, based in New York City. Their work will be amplified in the coming days to welcome the caravan making its way to the border through South America. As a people whose foundational mythology and history knows well the pain of homelessness, and the grace of kindness and warm welcomes, we should feel personally called to this work. There are clinics and other volunteer opportunities weekly, and I challenge you to make a donation that matches or exceeds all your other spending this weekend. Thank you to member Sonya Posmentier for bringing us to this work.
Wishing you a Shabbat of thanks!
Rabbi Zach Fredman