From the Rabbi

Rabbi Mark

“We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of happiness”

(The Declaration of Independence 1776)


One day last month, I received a phone call from the Burbank Human Relations Committee leader. I had called about organizing a vigil in honor of Mr. Floyd but also to deal with a matter of great importance to me, the value of all life. Black lives matter, of course. And 400 years of discrimination contributes to the feeling on the part of Black children and their parents that they don’t matter. This frustration and anguish had spilled over into violence in the name of protest. The jury is still out if the looters were part of the main stream protest or criminals hiding amongst the thousands, no millions, of demonstrators who truly feel change must be in the wind.

I was asked to write about the value of Human life. It was to be combined with other clergy writings and read by the mayor in a Zoom City Council meeting.

I am reprinting it here because it does sum up my feelings on the “Lives matter” issue”

Dear Friends,

Today we stand together to mourn the needless death of George Floyd, who most of us did not know. Mr. Floyd’s death was not merely one of a single human being.  The Talmud, the compendium of Jewish commentaries on the Bible, speaks to the vastness of human existence. A person, like God, it says, is a compendium of wondrous aspects.

The Talmud states, Sanhedrin 37a, “When you destroy a soul, you have destroyed an entire world”. We may not know the world or worlds that was George Floyd, but we do know that the cosmos we live in is less rich because of his loss.

The Talmud continues, giving us aim and direction,” He who saves a life it is as if he saved a world”,

Remember, friends, violence is destructive! Peace is constructive! We must save lives in this time of great trauma!

This same section of Talmud further calls out to us,

”Why was man created alone? To bring Peace among people”. To honor George’s memory may we make Peace today and every day?! And may we strive always to save the entire galaxies that are people and help make peoples’ infinitely wonderful lives matter, because the solar system that is their life matters to all of us.

I wrote that piece aimed at the memory of one human but it is meant for all Humans. White, Black, Red, Yellow, gay, straight, male female, transgender, all deserve to become the world they are destined to be!

The word Shalom, is from the same root as the word Shalem which complete. By bringing another person Shalom, you help complete them. How does one go about completing a person they care about or one they barely know?

We are taught that we pray for healing for others before ourselves. We pray for those who are in danger and then we pray for our own safety. A friend of mine said it well. It there is a row of houses and all are fine except the one that is burning, of course you save the one afire and then you help the victims with shelter, food, clothing and whatever they need. We at Temple, even though we are not physically together, can act as a congregation. We know people in the minority communities. When was the last time we reached out to them? We have members whose families live throughout this country. Did anyone call the member and ask how their family is doing given the protests? Did you call your Congressman and ask what are they doing to bring about reform, not just police reform but voting reform, housing reform, school reform. Get involved!

REFORM America and Especially your attitude to others who are different then you. Your transition will be miraculous!

Shabbat, our gift to the world tells us in the Ten Commandments that it is not enough for us to have a time of rest. Not enough for our children or our families but also the ‘Stranger that dwells in our mist’. Give that stranger a respite from the stress that has been their life in America. You do it by simply getting involved in change. Learn how their world revolves. See their world as they see it. Then if you can change the negatives to positive, help them! If you can make the beautiful prettier, join them. If you make their bad times less bad and their good times better, you both will have discovered the new world that belongs to you both for you have built it together.

Further, the time to sit back and say that that it is another’s responsibility to make changes to make their world better is Over! We must look to change the world. It is not enough to let nature take its course, we must aid those in need! For we are needy, too!

B’ahava and Happy Independence Day,

Rabbi Mark