Finally, something good to talk about! Shabbat last week began with such depressing news, as another school shooting, the 22nd of this year, claimed ten victims in Santa Fe, Texas. I spoke about this during Shabbat morning services, and do not wish to rehash my comments. Suffice it to say that while schools and law enforcement agencies have changed their procedures since the Columbine shooting 19 years ago, the one group that has not evolved in response to this is our elected leaders in Washington. Their failure to lead, in a time when we seek their leadership, is unforgiveable. I do not wish to minimize the pain of the Santa Fe community, but I do think that we need to continue to talk to create thoughtful solutions.
However, amidst this tragedy there was a wedding, and what a wedding it was! The Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle offered a joyous diversion and celebration from the constant flow of one piece of bad news after another. We could temporarily put aside, even if it was just for the 90 minutes of the wedding, thoughts of all of the terrible things happening in the world and focus on something joyous. It was particularly uplifting to hear not one, but two references to the Biblical Book Song of Songs, which is a frequent text quoted at many Jewish weddings. The stellar word of the day was “inclusion”. While it was no doubt a cultural shock for many Brits to hear a Baptist Choir sing a beautiful version of “Stand by Me” and a Baptist preacher speak with emotion sprinkled with good humor, I found it to be uplifting. So many commentators on the various television networks, both regular British observers of the monarchy and Americans, noted the unique elements of the day that were clearly Meghan’s suggestions. Yet they all melded together to form a beautiful ceremony, one that will continue to be water cooler conversation for some time (remember the water cooler?). Talk of how this reflected a continued evolution of the British throne, with the now Duke and Duchess of Sussex embracing inclusivity and outreach to all citizens, demonstrated how even something as ancient as the British monarchy can change.
I certainly support their efforts, and take away the same optimism for Jewish life here at TOLOLS. Judaism of today is certainly not the same version from when we were founded 154 years ago, much less one decade ago. Judaism continues to evolve before our eyes, and we must be nimble enough to find ways to work out a framework to continue to be relevant and welcoming to all. Judaism continues to have much to offer each of us, as we struggle with the challenges that the world throws at us and strive to become the best selves possible, with the Torah as our guide. I welcome your participation in this journey, in the hopes that you, and others, will look upon our efforts favorably, as so many did the Royal Wedding. God Save the Queen! And God bless the United States of America!