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Rabbi's Corner

SENIOR RABBI

PAULA MARCUS

Rabbi Paula sees Jewish practice as an ongoing, joyous celebration of God and ourselves. 
pmarcus@tbeaptos.org

 

We are an active part of the larger community.  

Thoughts from Rabbi Paula—February 2018

Purim is a story of danger, ingenuity, courage and resilience. Every year as we read the story, we applaud Esther’s bravery, Mordechai’s persistence and we make noises when we hear Haman’s name. We celebrate survival.

I’m writing from Halong Bay, in Vietnam. We have joined with travelers from the U.S. and other parts of the world. Over 50 years have passed since the war and I wondered how it would feel to be in a country that suffered, and continues to suffer, so much loss as a result of war. How would Americans be treated by the Vietnamese people?

During our visit to the Women’s Museum, I read stories of women who risked their lives in defense of their people. Women who stepped in, stepped forward, to save their loved ones and their families. There were pictures of young women, working the rice paddies with guns strapped to their sides. Pictures of nuns who chained themselves together to protect their monasteries. These women reminded me of Esther’s courage in stepping forward to save our people.

Over dinner, we met with a Vietnam War veteran named Chuck. He shared his story of returning to Vietnam and being embraced by the people. His courage and dedication to healing inspired me to write the following poem. May we all find the strength to stand up for justice and reconciliation. 

      Lilies
“Look for the circles in the rice paddies,” our tour guide said. “They are bomb craters from the war.”
“They are filled now with water lilies.”
Chuck was young,
from a patriotic family. 
Serving in intelligence,
he read what came his way.
And he came to see the war
through new eyes.
Destruction, suffering, no winners, unjust.

But he returned. 
Welcomed with open arms 
warm hearts and grace.
To care for those poisoned.
Dismantle bombs.
New limbs for the injured.

“Every veteran who has come back, their life is changed for the better.” He said.
Lilies, limbs, learning and love.

Tue, August 14 2018 3 Elul 5778