And let us light a second candle to symbolize hope. Hope for the safety of America and Israel, of Jews everywhere, indeed, of the entire world. In the warmth of these two flames, let us pray for peace.
Thanksgiving links American and Jewish values that enrich our lives. This holiday commemorates the Pilgrims' first New World harvest. Its inspiration comes from the Hebrew Bible and the festival of Sukkot.
Echoes of Sukkot resonate this year. Simple, temporary huts, open to the sky, recall the shelters that protected desert wanderers. They remind us how fragile is even the sturdiest building, indeed, life itself.
Protected under God's canopy, the sukkat shalom, and inspired by acts of courage and glimpses of our common humanity, we are prepared to face the future's uncertainty with renewed confidence.
The story of Jews fleeing persecution and seeking religious freedom is an American story. No country in history has so enabled us to flourish, create, and contribute to the national life as citizens and as Jews.
This autumn of memorials and obituaries has sharpened our appreciation for the blessings of our lives and connected us to the lives of others:
... to the aspiring actress whose passions were caring for animals and teaching children through theater;
... to the 28-year-old rookie firefighter who was covering for someone else at his ladder company;
... to the stock trader whose last moments on earth were spent calling home to say, "I love you and tell the kids I love them, too."
These are but a few of the people we honor now as we pause in silence.
Night fell suddenly on that warm September morning, obliterating the azure blue sky in turbulent clouds of dust and ash.
Our landscape dimmed. Sturdy columns of steel, which seemed as solid and invincible as America itself, were destroyed. Stunned, we mourn the loss of people and place.
New York, Washington, Pennsylvania. Not here. Not in America! This is the promised land of our pilgrim fathers and mothers. Terror, long endured in Jerusalem, has invaded our shores. All the landmarks of our lives seemed to collapse, and in this flattened terrain we felt again like wanderers.
Life has changed. Our openness is moderated by caution. Hope struggles with fear. Nothing is routine.Yet we resist returning to normal because in this intensity everyday events, like a phone call from an old friend or the unexpected courtesy of a stranger, are experienced as miracles. We understand that every moment is sanctified.
"All the world is a narrow bridge. But the essential principle is to fear nothing at all." --Rabbi Nahman of Bratslav
We are thankful that we live in this American community, which derives its awesome creativity and energy from the diversity of its people, the freedoms they enjoy, and their fervent pursuit of justice.
Let us express our gratitude using these written words or our own.
We are thankful for the freedom from hunger.
We are thankful for the freedom to worship.
We are thankful for the freedom to challenge our minds.
We are thankful for the freedom to change our minds.
We are thankful for the freedom to chart our lives.
We are thankful for the freedom to work for a better world.
We are thankful for the freedom to celebrate this day.
We pray for our country, for the men and women who today are protecting our freedom, and for the day when this nation and the entire world will know peace.
"We cannot merely pray to God to end war;
For the world was made in such a way
That we must find our own path of peace
Within ourselves and with our neighbor...
Therefore we pray instead
For strength, determination, and will power,
To do instead of merely to pray
To become instead of merely to wish;
That our world may be safe,
And that our lives may be blessed."
--Rabbi Jack Riemer
>Oseh shalom bi-m'romav, hu ya'aseh shalom aleinu v'al kol yisrael, v'imru amen.
God who brings peace to the universe will bring peace to us and to all the people Israel, and to all the inhabitants of the earth. And let us say, Amen.
We thank God for the bread on our table by sharing our good fortune with others.
Barukh atah adonai eloheinu melekh ha-olam, ha-motzi lehem min ha-aretz.
Praised are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth.