— Rabbi Jonathan Malamy, Director of Meaningful Life

Good Afternoon, Jewish Home Manhattan.
Today is Friday, May 29.
Today is also the first day of Shavuot, the two-day Jewish harvest festival at the beginning of summer.

In the 26th chapter of Deuteronomy (verses 1-11), we read an early description of the holiday’s observance. There, when a person presents that season’s first fruits at the ancient Temple, they make a brief speech to the priest recounting their interwoven personal and national history. It evokes the pioneering journeys of Abraham and Sarah, the people’s enslavement in Egypt, the eventual liberation, the Israelite’s wandering and providence in the wilderness. And finally, it connects to their ongoing life in the land, a land famously flowing with milk and honey. 

One lesson this text teaches is that we best appreciate where we are and what we have when we remember how got where we are. On Shavuot all forms of remembrance are important. We recite prayers of remembrance called yizkor. These recall the important people in our lives who are no longer with us. 

Remembering can be challenging. It can sometimes be painful. But remembering is nearly always worthwhile. So many acts of remembering support good work and continued growth: remembering names and faces; remembering the lessons we learned from those in our pasts; remembering the values we hold; remembering our mistakes and how we learned from them, remembering what it was like to come through past challenges.

And it extends especially to people. We each like to be known, to remember and be remembered. And when we can’t remember, as is the reality in many people’s lives, may we be surrounded by people who remind us or even remember for us so that we can continue to live as much as possible with meaning and dignity, in safety and in love. 

May we remember and be remembered for blessing.

Shabbat Shalom! 

Chag Sameakh / Good Yontif / Happy Holiday

Have a great weekend.

I will remember you by Sarah McLachlan