Chanukah Across America Responses and Pictures

For the record, I am not a member of Barry’s congregation  nor have I ever been a member of any congregation  In spite of that fact, I have attended a handful of services in his L’Dor V-Dor and I have been delighted and moved by the brilliant and humane way that Rabbi Barry conducts his services. I would call them more celebrations than services. I feel welcome and included as the Rabbi makes his religion accessible, understandable, and downright hip.

Before talking about Chanukah, I’d like to mention his incredible Yom Kipper service. In the true spirit of that holiest of days, Barry includes a mid day interlude encased within the more traditional service. This hour and a half interlude pours another level of meaning over the entire service. He has created a tradition of presenting a panel of clergy from eight different spiritual points of view. These folks respond to a series of questions with each answering every question from their own prospective. The questions are challenging and it is interesting and informative to hear a Rabbi, Priest, Imam, Atheist, Hindu, Buddhist, and Bahai respond to questions about issues such as Israel or the afterlife or what their religions need to atone for..
 
In that same spirit of creativity and brotherhood, Barry often brings people of different persuasions into his Friday services. One example to illustrate was a service my wife and I attended at the time of the South Carolina church murders. Pastors and congregants from two African-American churches attended the service and dialogued with the congregation  He even included a Motown singing group to bring another cultural dimension to the service. This type of presentation, which is the norm at his temple, makes each service relevant to our current lives.
 
The Rabbi is able to do these things because his loving and magnetic personality reaches out and connects with all elements of the spiritual community. Despite philosophical and religious differences Barry is highly respected, and I’ll say loved, by this diverse group of folks.
 
This brings me to the subject that i was requested to write about, the recent Chanukah celebration in L’Dor V-Dor. This time Barry’s guest was an incredibly accomplished Native American leader from the Lakota Sioux of South Dakota. Eagle Man and Barry engaged in an unrehearsed dialogue who’s theme was the similarities between Jewish and Native American philosophies and religious beliefs. This mutual tour d’ force was incredible. They riffed in words and song to help us all discover the spiritual unity of these two ancient belief systems.
 
This and the other experiences that my wife and my friends whom we’ve introduced to L’Dor V-Dor, who attend Barry’s services with or without us, all feel that Barry Silver is a one of a kind clergyman who should be a beacon of light to the Jewish community. He is more involved in living the Word than speaking it – yet he speaks it so well too.
I’m sure there are many worthy candidates for your award. Since Barry does what he does without any focus on money, he is worthy of your consideration as well as the financial support that would be so meaningful for his small but growing candle of light to our community.
Sincerely,
Steve West

                                                                                        January 6, 2017

Dear Rabbi Barry

 

I was in the audience on Wednesday evening when the Lakota Sioux group was here.  Something in particular that you said during the course of the evening touched me.  You were speaking about people who leave the temple because of some reason and then try to recapture whatever they feel they lost by becoming “spiritual”.

 

I am one of those people.  I was a nice Jewish boy when I was 10 years old.  My parents enrolled me in Hebrew School in Brooklyn in preparation for my Bar Mitzvah.  I yearned for the opportunity to a) learn Hebrew and b) become a better Jew.  My first hope was dashed quickly when I realized that he Hebrew school did not teach Hebrew. Oh yes, I learned to speak the language and read and write the language but about what I was speaking, I had no idea what most of the words meant.  Expressing my disappointment to my teachers was met by a stern rebuke.   (Shut up and sit down).  Not to mention a slap across the face on another occasion.

 

After my bar mitzvah I basically gave up on being a good Jew but my thirst for the “truth’ continued.  I read all of western philosophy, eastern philosophy, and whatever books I could find in my quest.  In 1975 I discovered transcendental meditation and I have been practicing that technique and absorbing the philosophy ever since.  Yes, I still felt Jewish but I did not attend synagogue in New York.

 

Then I came to Florida as a “snow bird” and met you.  I came to your Temple on the recommendation of a friend and since then I have rarely missed a Friday evening service.  Every week your sermons inspire me to be a better person and a better Jew.  I am learning to blend my spirituality gained from my meditation practice with Judaism.  And I feel good inside.

 

Thank-you so much for who you are as a person, as a teacher, as a great role model.

 

 

Warmest Regards,

 

Chuck Burdman

 

Dear Rabbi Silver,

I wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed the evening at Congregation L’Dor Va-Dor on December 28, 2016 when you hosted Eagle Man of the Oglala Lakota.  It was so interesting to hear his stories of our indigenous Native Americans and how much we as a Jewish People share with them.

This information needs to be shared with everyone and I hope that it will be made more available in the near future.

Thank you so much for making this event happen.

Blessings,
Joan Balfour

(Guest at the event)