Rabbi’s Message: Temple B’nai Sholom – Huntsville, Alabama Reform Jewish Congregation
This past week, we had the confirmation class retreat. This was the first time since I have been the rabbi at the Temple, that we were able to organize and have a retreat. I was so happy that we were able to come together, grow together and study.
We went on a hike so that the children could learn about song-lines. This is a practice that the Aborigine people use, so that when they cross the great outback, they are able to find their way home by making a song about various points of interest or natural formations on their journey.
As the confirmation class finished their retreat this past week, one of the confirmands commented that she was amazed that what happens in the natural world around her is reflective of her spiritual life, and of what our sacred texts teach us. The confirmation class had to memorize verses of psalms and various other passages, and think about them on a hike through the woods. These passages were our song lines for the day. The young people had to ask themselves what those passages actually meant. Where was God in their lives? What does it mean to follow in the footsteps of God?
One of the challenging things to convey to our youth is that they will be faced with challenges, they will be faced with struggles and they will confront things which make them uncomfortable. The only answer for them is to look inside of themselves, pray for guidance and have faith that everything will happen for the best. When faced with the loss of a loved one or a friend, they will have to ask themselves where is God? When faced with a decision of which college to attend or more seriously when you see your college roommate engaging in behavior that is not good, how do you stay on God’s path?
The prophet Jeremiah teaches us to “Erect makers, set up signposts; keep in mind the highway, the road that you traveled.” We need to teach our children how to erect these markers and what they are. They need to be personal to them so that – just like the mezuzah on our doorposts – it is a reminder of how to find God in their lives. So I ask you what symbols do you use to remind you of God? What prayers do you say? How often have you looked into the book of Psalms for inspiration, or simply to pray? Or do you not use any of these tools and pray to God with an open heart? We would be in a dangerous position if we were to forget what it says in Proverbs
My son, forget not my teaching; but let thy heart keep my commandments;
For length of days, and years of life, and peace, will they add to thee.
Let not kindness and truth forsake thee; bind them about thy neck, write them upon the table of thy heart;
So shalt thou find grace and good favor in the sight of God and man.
Trust in the Lord with all thy heart, and lean not upon thine own understanding.
In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct thy paths.
May we have the strength to remind our children of this message as they continue on their journey toward adulthood. May we have the strength to remind ourselves of this message, may we remember our Jewish songlines when we are wondering down a path that is full of traps. May we all have a great summer!