Sometimes we crave clarity but it’s just not there.
A television show I tend to watch is called “Hoarders,” a show about hoarders who live inside homes overflowing with objects and trash they never throw away. Compulsive hoarding is a terrible disease that deserves compassion. By the time the professionals from the show are called, the hoarding is out of control and hoarders’ lives are unmanageable. What I always wonder is what preceded the hoarding? Could they have caught it early, before the pattern was set?
While hoarding is relatively rare, the pattern of waiting until behaviors get out of control is more common. For example, you may have elderly parents who have lost the ability to care for themselves. Unfortunately, there is a good chance that you will be called upon to evaluate whether someone in your family is able to care for themselves.
What if we catch the pattern early and get ahead of the care? What if we can identify how to gain control of other patterns before they get out of hand? During Shabbat on Friday, June 16, at 7:00 p.m., in our series on Wisdom Lists, you will gain some insights you can use when loved ones might be losing the ability to live on their own. We hope to see you for this important discussion!
-By Rabbi Barry Diamond
As you may have heard, a number of weeks ago a small group of neo-Nazis stood on the Borchard Road overpass in Newbury Park, unfurled a hate-filled banner, and recorded the incident, presumably for purposes of recruitment. Following this incident, Councilmember Claudia Bill-de la Peña reached out to the NAACP and several other civic and religious leaders, including me, to draft and support a resolution condemning white supremacy and racism of any kind and affirming the desire to create a community free of hatred. I was asked to be one of the speakers at last night’s city council meeting. Below are my edited comments.
I’m Barry Diamond, Rabbi at Temple Adat Elohim and an active member of the Conejo Valley Interfaith Association. I appreciate the proposal being considered. We all know of the ongoing challenges presented by racism, antisemitism, and the hatred of individuals intent on lifting themselves up by treading on the souls of their neighbors. The recent handful of white supremacists on that Borchard Road overpass is a small and concerning reminder of hatred’s persistence. There are thoughtful people urging the council to take greater action and others urging them to ignore this incident because it draws more attention to this small group, giving them the exposure they want.
Beyond the condemnation of these merchants of fear and hate, this resolution affirms our desire to create a community that encourages each of its citizens to swim in a pool of safety and justice. When we see those vulgar acts on the Borchard overpass, when we see people hoping to fuel our fears, our mouths run dry. It is at these times when we must dip our cups in the well-water of our shared values and offer a drink to those who are frightened. When you, our city leaders, actively reaffirm the shared principles that allow us to thrive as a community, then we, as citizens, will actively work with you to strengthen our city of light and drive out the dark shadows that occasionally pass through our streets.
Rabbi Barry Diamond
Think of the last time you attended a play or concert. You probably saw an advertisement and perhaps even looked up the play or the musicians playing that event. You may have eaten a special meal beforehand, worn special clothes, and talked about the show with some friends. Each of these small acts help prepare us for our experience; these rituals shape our mindset. It is certainly possible to enjoy the play or concert without these preparations, but it is much more likely with them.
During the upcoming High Holy Days, services will be conducted virtually. Therefore, many of our usual rituals will not be available to us. Large family dinners will be less likely and dressing in nice clothing to attend services will not be necessary. While this may seem like a loss, it is actually an opportunity to seek out new rituals that prepare us for the High Holy Days. Sometimes, new rituals may better prepare us than the ones we’ve come to expect.
I would like to invite you to participate in a new ritual that has very old roots. The name of the month that precedes Rosh Hashanah is called Elul (Ay-LOOL). During Elul, we are called upon to hear the sound of the shofar each day and read Psalms and reflective readings that encourage us to examine our lives more fully. Beginning on Friday, August 21, the first day of Elul, we would like to email you one reflective reading for each day leading up to Rosh Hashanah. These brief readings can water the arid soil of our soul. To receive the daily reflections, please sign up using the link below.
I look forward to finding new, meaningful ways to welcome the new year with you! Sign Up to Receive the Daily Elul Wisdoms