Talking is good!

Israelis and Palestinians begin to talk….

592Many of us watched yesterday, as representatives from both Israel and the Palestinian Authority met in Washington, D.C., through the efforts of Secretary of State John Kerry. Their purpose? To determine if there is a way around / past / beyond the landmines that have frustrated any hope of a secure and sensible peace between Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and other (interested) parties.

Their momentous meeting lasted but a few hours, with an agreement to talk again in two weeks. 

There are many opinions on who owns the responsibility for the violence that has marred the landscape of the Middle East for so many years. There are an equal number of opinions as to who must move where (physically, politically, strategically) in order for peace to occur. And there are another set of diverse opinions as to what “peace” might actually mean and how it would be measured.

There are far too many of these “opinions” to address them in a meaningful way in this short message. However, the message I do wish to share is simple…and one that (I hope) many can embrace: talking is very good!

Think about what we teach our children: Use your words. Don’t hold things inside. Share what you really feel and want.

And while it is much easier to help 5-year-olds negotiate a playground argument, we know that our advice to them is the same that we – ourselves – need to hear. In so many situations – with spouses, with parents, with co-workers, with friends and family – we fail because we simply do not talk. We don’t sit face-to-face and iron out the difficulties that exist between us.

The same is true with the Israelis and Palestinians. We know (or hope) that as long as we are sitting and talking, no one is shooting missiles or killing one another. Talking means that there is a chance that some good can emerge, that the two parties can find – not necessarily common ground, but – a common need that will lead them to accept positions all parties can support.

The struggle for security in the Middle East has been decades in the making. Talking to resolve those struggles will take time…Secretary Kerry mentioned nine months. Is it coincidental that nine months is the time for a newborn’s gestation? Is it coincidental that nine months from now is Pesach, the time of liberation and freedom?

I don’t know. And we don’t know how long the parties will talk. But for now, let’s us say Shehecheyanu that they are – in fact – willing to talk. That is the beginning of any solution. 


Life is good! Life is good!

What Does It Mean? 
some congregant answers… 

Last week, I asked a question: What does “the good life” mean to you. A number of congregants shared their thoughts and I feel it is instructive to share some of the answers. (Notes: I have removed all identifying info…and apologize to those who responded but whose answers were not reprinted.)

Answer #1: For me, “the good life” means the following:  Watching my kids grow up into productive adults who contribute in so many positive ways. They are good, kind, and compassionate people who treat other with kindness and respect.  My son volunteers many times and not to be recognized but because it is the “right thing to do.”  They both have spouses who are incredible people.  They both are working in the fields that they have expertise.

Answer #2: I thank God every day for my good life. We have put all our energy, our efforts, our time, our savings, and most of all our love into raising 2 wonderful, hard working, philanthropic, loving children who have made us so proud of their choices.  We were fortunate to have great parents and grandparents and our children have brought back all their pieces to us.  Bless you God for all our gifts.

Answer #3: The good life to me is having a caring family whose accomplishments I can be very proud and having a very fulfilling and successful career.

Answer #4: The good life: Passing wisdom to your children.

Answer #5: Having a sense of purpose. I don’t think you have to have the answers just a sense of direction – knowing you are contributing to a good greater than oneself which creates a connection/responsibility to and for others which means that your focus is not on just yourself. Perhaps that means your life is good when you don’t feel the need to focus on just yourself because you are able to see a bigger picture than that. The good life isn’t just about having enough. The story of King Midas illustrates that money alone won’t do it. Perhaps the good life is just a matter of perspective.

See a pattern? Family. Purpose. Giving.

A pretty good summary of the “good life.” Finally, a few folks wrote, who are in the midst of family struggles – illnesses, transitions, discord. Each understood that the “good life” was all about time spent with those we love the most, making their lives as rich and meaningful as possible.

August is just around the corner….and then the High Holidays. Make these waning days of summer the “good life” for you and those around.