“What Is And What Is Possible”

When I first arrived here I was told there are definitely four seasons in Little Rock, and that sometimes they occur on the same day.

That has been delightfully true about Little Rock and it’s completely true about life. We are presented with all the seasons of life, and sometimes in the same moment, and sometimes they present themselves on the same day.

We have been blessed at Agudath Achim with abundant participation at events on holy days.

In the first weekend of November we will gather for our Annual Picnic in the Park, and thanks to our Men’s Club we will munch on hot dogs and veggies and enjoy all kinds of cold drinks by the water. It’s a beautiful time to see people we have missed, and to remind ourselves of the beauty of nature all around us.

The very next day, Monday November 6, the Institute for Southern Jewish Life is sending us a special speaker, their Director of Jewish History, Josh Parshall. Addressing us and the whole Little Rock community, he will share his specialty “The History of Jews in Arkansas” with us. Join us at 7 PM at the synagogue.

Also in November we bring back our popular Sunday 11 AM classes, “Soul Construction”. Join us beginning November 12.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the events we are all dealing with as part of the world-wide Jewish community. We are not strangers to occurrences of cruelty. We are, however, shell-shocked at the magnitude and the level of cruelty that has been experienced this past month. Our biblical reading this Saturday includes the birth of a child whose very name means laughter – Yitchak/ Isaac – and then the binding and almost loss of that child later on in the same portion. I think that’s no accident. It is the joy of his arrival and the shock at his almost-loss that represents what is part of what makes life excruciatingly joyous and excruciatingly hard.

Jews worldwide have been enormously generous in their dollar donations and in sending packages of supplies for soldiers and for affected communities. They have shown their support in their rallying calls to friends and relatives. Israeli society has shown spectacular unity and bravery and an unparalleled level of civic stamina and civic volunteerism.

It is both the grief and the inspiration that I encouraged us to feel. The grief because it is real, and the inspiration because as Jews and humans we show ourselves over and over what is possible.

May we find our strengths – and yes, in the face of all that is difficult – find our joys.

Rabbi Mark Biller