Sunday, September 4

Shul Thing

Britt and I went to shul Friday night. I insisted that we go: It just felt like the right thing to do, after Katrina, and I was hoping to get a little perspective.

I'm still a little distraught about Katrina. Forgive me if my writing seems clunky or my thoughts disjointed. My brain just can't digest all the news. And I feel guilty about not being able to absorb the enormity of what has happened, because I have the luxury of being able to distract myself from the news, while so many other people can't escape Katrina's aftermath -- and will never be able to escape Katrina's aftermath.

Back to Friday night: Rabbi Birnholz (who used to be a cowboy!) delivered a passionate sermon about the hurricane. He said the Biblical story of Noah and the flood was a straightforward account of G-d washing away the evils of society, but Katrina was a more complicated matter, exposing evil but not eradicating it. The aftermath of Katrina reveals what Americans have been hiding or ignoring for too long: racial disparities, negligence of the poor, failure to recognize and address major infrastructure problems, and botched national priorities. What kind of society would build countless football stadiums but not strengthen its levees, he asked.

I'm not doing Rabbi Birnholz's sermon justice here (which frustrates me greatly because, after all, because I'm a professional writer). After the service, I asked the Rabbi if he could publish it on the synagogue's Web site or in the newsletter. When he does, I'll be sharing it with everyone.

Today is Britt's and my second day in Washington, D.C. We are going to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum this morning. I expect it will be an utterly dreadful, painful and extremely important experience.

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