“See, I am putting before you today a blessing and a curse.” So begins Parshat R’eh (Deut. 11:26) In this opening line, our ancestors, and we, are reminded, individually and collectively, we have choices and power. We can weigh the opportunities before us and choose our path. Each one of us can consciously make a difference in this world with every step by living in caring, compassionate ways. It is not always easy, and we will like make missteps, yet at any given moment we have the opportunity to try to do better.
Perhaps the even larger challenge is coming to terms with the fact that others might not be as caring. While we cannot force others to be compassionate, we are taught to continue to make a difference in the face of indifference.
At the same time it is important to remember that being compassionate is not the same as being a doormat. We cannot let others trample us for we will only be able to care for others if we can appropriately advocate and care for ourselves. The difference? Even as we fight for the right to exist, we must fervently hope and work towards shalom – deep, lasting peace.
Last week Nashama Carlebach and Josh Nelson released a haunting music video of Y’hi Shalom, a song written by Nashama Carlebach’s father, Reb Shlomo Carlebach. “Let there be peace on earth; let it begin in me,” they remind us. May we each choose to make it so.
Prior to her position with the Grinspoon Foundation, Iris served as a synagogue educator in Syracuse NY, the Central New York PJ Library Program Coordinator and as a national consultant for PJ Library.
Iris holds a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood, Elementary, and Special Education, a master’s degree in Special Education and Reading, and Advanced Certification in School Leadership and Administration. Her experience as a secular educator and educational leader in congregational and community settings spans over 20 years. She is also a lay leader in Jewish organizations on the local and national levels. Iris served as the President of CAJE – the Coalition for the Advancement of Jewish Education, which was the largest member organization for Jewish educators in the country.