Health & Harmony
We have been given a great gift in Rockaway. The gift of a new spiritual leader. Our peninsula is already graced with the leadership of great men representing a diversity of religions. We now are able to welcome a woman Rabbi who has been chosen by the congregation of West End Temple to be their spiritual leader.
Rabbi Marjorie Slome comes to us with a background in Interfaith Outreach, an ideal reminiscent of the all-inclusive philosophy of the late Rabbi Weiss, longtime leader of West End Temple. I had the pleasure of interviewing Rabbi Slome and asked her about her intentions for this community. “I want to open the door for people to find themselves and a place for their families in it.” “I want to make it inclusive and welcoming and uplifting.”
We discussed the fact that many of our community’s interfaith families are indeed searching for a place to be connected with their families. The Rabbi said that she would encourage temple attendance and is committed to preserve the continuity of Judaism. Rabbi Slome is a woman who loves the pursuit of knowledge. Indeed as we spoke she pulled several books from her shelf as references to our conversation and we exchanged titles of mutually interesting topics. She envisions the temple as a place of study, a center of Jewish learning and exploration. “I bring the God-piece into classes and workshops. I find God through study and sharing stories.
As a mother of teens, we shared the common ground of the desire to keep religion in their lives and we discussed ways that we might interest teenagers in community service projects and other ways of living a prayerful life.
I asked the question:” How is health addressed in Judaism?” The Rabbi explained that Judaism has a long history of addressing questions of health and healing. The Psalms bespeak both pleas for healing as well as joyful thanksgiving for cures or the strength to endure suffering. In every Shabbat service there is a prayer for those who render care and for those who are in need of healing. “In Judaism, we say a prayer for healing, through God’s intercession and the works of healers, using people.” “What is health to you?” I asked. Rabbi Slome said that health is the time between sickness. That small period of time that seems opposite to what it should be. And then she told me a story. The story of Tikkun Olam, “repairing the world”. In the beginning the Universe was filled from end to end with Light. To create the world He had to make space so G-d inhaled some of the light and the world was created. He had to put the light he inhaled into vessels but the vessels couldn’t contain all the light so they shattered. Shards and light were scattered. Our job as humans is to gather the light and the vessels and put the world back together. “The pursuit of this process is spiritual health. The journey, finding G-d in those moments. Where you come back home.” This is a story of healing.
“What does spiritual health look like to you?” I asked. The Rabbi replied,” It’s about integration of your psyche with your spiritual self, in concert, that place where things come together. A place where you bring I-thou relationships into your life, not just with G-d but with other relationships. Respect, deep care, meeting of the minds. It’s not just about peak experiences- it’s the everyday living of it.”
It feels like you have come back home, Rabbi Slome.
And let us say: Amen.
May The Blessings Be!