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Showing posts from June, 2018

Religious leaders from array of faiths denounce 'family separations' Religious leaders from array of faiths denounce “family separations” by Alex Petroski - June 25, 2018 Normally various religious leaders getting together at the same place and time sounds like the lead-in to a joke, but an event at North Shore Jewish Center in Port Jefferson Station June 24 was far from a laughing matter.  United States immigration policy, specifically the recently instituted “zero tolerance policy” by President Donald Trump (R) and his administration, which has resulted in the detention of several thousands of people and the separation of families attempting to cross the border together, was the topic of discussion during an interfaith vigil of prayer and unity at the Synagogue Sunday.  Rabbi Aaron Benson of NSJC, Reverend Richard Visconti of Caroline Church and Cemetery in East Setauket, Reverend Chuck Van Houten of Stony Brook Community Church, Irma Solis of Unitarian Univer

Ecumenical vigil opposes Trump immigration policy Ecumenical vigil opposes Trump immigration policy by Vera Chinese @VeraChinese Updated June 24, 2018 8:46 PM  Worshippers of varied faiths came together in Port Jefferson Station on Sunday to speak against the practice of separating children from their families during border-crossing arrests, decrying the policy as inhumane.  Rabbi Aaron Benson of the North Shore Jewish Center, the site of the ecumenical one-hour vigil of prayer and unity attended by more than 100 people, said the issue transcends politics and is one of human rights.  “Our nation can do better than enact policy that insults and injures the humanity of all involved,” he said, adding that the United States is a nation of laws, but should not be “a nation of cruelty.”  “That should not be a controversial notion.”  Those who spoke also rejected the notion that a Bible passage could be used in sup

Nice to meet you Cantor

Nice to meet you Cantor. Quite often this sentence is more of a question than a statement, with the responder not quite sure what a ‘cantor’ is and what a ‘cantor’ does.   My simple response is that a cantor is like a rabbi, but more concerned with the music in the Jewish worship service than the legal decisions guiding the congregation.   But that answer is very reductionist to both the roles of the rabbi and the cantor.   Since this is my introductory post, I will take this opportunity to explain in more detail the position and purpose of the cantor in the modern Jewish synagogue.   I will leave the explanation of rabbi to my colleagues. Part of the confusion around the term ‘cantor’ arises from the multiple usages of the term.   Some refer to anyone leading a Jewish prayer service as a cantor.   Some synagogues have a cantorial soloist who is called cantor, but who has not completed the full training of an ordained cantor.   Just to make things even more confused, the term

Vigil of Prayer and Unity, This Sunday

I am A Unitarian Universalist

Unitarian Universalists must often begin conversations about faith with an explanation of where we came from, who we are, and what we "believe." Our history is complicated and our congregations theologically diverse. It's tough to capture the essence in just a few words, but here's one way I go about it! Unitarian Universalism is the product of two perplexing questions that arose early in the development of the Christian faith and continued to be asked over many centuries in many places. The first was the question of how a good and loving God could condone violence and condemn human souls to hell. Our forebears asked “Is not God’s love and forgiveness complete and universal?” Thus   universalism . The second was whether God is three “persons,” a trinity, or one, a Unity. Our forebears asked “Is not God One and aren’t we all One in God?” Thus   unitarianism .  People who think like a unitarian and love like a universalist are known to this day for asking awkwa

I am a Friend ...

I am a Friend, a member of the Religious Society of Friends, known as Quakers.   I hope you are not surprised to know that Quakers are still around, but I will not be surprised if you are.   Beginning in England in the 1650s, Quakerism grew out of the Protestant Christian tradition, and spread to the American colonies soon after. Known for our testimonies of pacifism, equality, and simple living, we are sometimes considered to have a contrarian point of view on matters of foreign policy and social justice issues.   When I was growing up, we were sometimes confused with Amish, Puritans, Shakers, and oatmeal makers and I thought that we were an odd group far out of the mainstream. What I have learned as I have gotten older and more deeply confirmed in my faith is the many ways that we are similar to other religions, in our beliefs and in what we value. I think you will find that some Quaker beliefs will resonate with you, whatever your spiritual language or orientation: -

Saying Hello First

Hevei makdim bishlom kol adam – “be the first to greet each person.”   It seems right for my first message to be one saying hello, so here it goes.   My late and beloved teacher, Rabbi Meier Schimmel, was always quick to be the first to greet anyone he encountered – sometimes even to the surprise of strangers and passersby.   But it was part of his way of looking at the world, validating the importance of every person, and honoring Judaism's belief that each person’s is created in the image of God. It always impressed me as a small thing that pointed to something really big.   So many people it seems to me go through life feeling sad or lonely or just too often forgotten for the human beings they are.   How overwhelming the task can feel to try and help all those people, to try and show that you’re trying to really see them.   How can you do it?   Saying “hello” is a meaningful way to at least start, to at least attempt to acknowledge the human beings who are all around us a