Today, I want to focus on gratitude. This isn’t easy. It’s been another very challenging week for Jews, for Americans, for Israel. I’ve addressed many of these challenges on Twitter and Facebook. I could share many thoughts about these challenges in my weekly message. But, right now, as we prepare for Shabbat and look forward to Thanksgiving, I need to shift my attention to some of the good things that are going on in my life. This shift doesn’t require me to ignore the challenging realities that are out there. That would be irresponsible. At the same time, by not paying more attention to the good things and expressing my gratitude for these good things, I don’t give my soul the spiritual recharge it needs – and this too is irresponsible.
These days, we’re bombarded with stories detailing how challenging it can be to be a Jew. But, this morning I was reminded that, despite these challenges, the Jewish people continue to grow and thrive. Indeed, the expression Am Yisrael Chai/The Jewish People Live is true. I experienced this as I stood and watched one of our own Ramat Shalomniks immerse in the Atlantic Ocean today, taking part in the ritual of mikvah and converting to Judaism. She chose us! And in doing so, she made us stronger. This lifted me high above the ugliness that permeates so many aspects of our lives right now and allowed me to come face to face with the pure goodness that surrounds. And for this, I’m grateful. I’m grateful that someone very special said “count me in!” I’m grateful that she saw the beauty that is Judaism. And I’m grateful that time and time again, despite tremendous adversity, Judaism continues to flourish.
Hours before Shabbat, a few days before Thanksgiving, my hope is that each of us takes a few moments to focus on things that lift us a little bit higher – and when we’re up there, we take the time to express our gratitude. We all deserve it.