Congregation Etz Chaim of DuPage County

Thankfulness and Changing the World

Tue, 11/29/2016 - 10:10am -- Rabbi Cosnowsky

"This is the day that the Lord has made, let us be glad and rejoice in it." (Psalm 118:24) כד זֶה- ַהּיֹום, ָע ָשה יְהוָה; נָ ִגי ָלה וְנִ ְש ְמ ָחה בֹו

I spent a wonderful Thanksgiving with my family in Florida last week. I was so grateful to be able to spend time with my parents on a holiday we haven't gotten to celebrate together in years. Back home this morning, I woke up in a warm bed. The sun was shining through my window, but even if it had been raining, I would have been grateful, knowing that I had a roof over my head and I would stay dry and warm. My thermostat was set to 70 degrees, and I had fresh coffee waiting for me in the kitchen. My children were watching cartoons and play fighting. And I had some rare quiet time for myself.

I took a moment to reflect upon the many blessings I have in my life. I live with my family in a wonderful home. I am employed at a job I love. I am currently healthy and, although there is great uncertainty, I choose to believe there is still much to look forward to in the future.

When my grandparents emigrated from Poland and became naturalized citizens, they were grateful to be able to pay taxes and felt it was the price they paid for the privilege of living in this great country. They never begrudged living here - they knew what life was like in other places in the world.

Yes, I could lament that the world has seemingly gone crazy and that there is much divisiveness in our fractured world. But why focus on that? Instead, I choose to focus on what work can be done today. The values our congregation holds dear remain unchanged. We are committed to educating our children and furthering the education of adults. We are passionate about standing up for the widow and the orphan in our society. We are dedicated to pursuing Tikkun Olam, the repair of our world. There is much work to be done.

In keeping with these values of our Jewish community, our congregation has focused on five areas where you can get involved today to make a difference in our community and world. These areas include:

The pursuit of Economic Justice
The pursuit of Racial Justice
The pursuit of LGBTQ equality
Muslim Solidarity
Immigrant/Refugee support

Please contact me or Rabbi Kamil to let us know you'd like to get involved in helping us heal the world in one or more of these areas. It can seem that we are living during the Chinese curse "May you live in interesting times." But times like these, which seem daunting, are opportunities for growth and change which ultimately can be positive. Today we have an opportunity to heal our world and be a part of the change which gives life and meaning to our days. We are obligated to take actions in areas that we see need improvement and not stand idly by.

Let us remember that we still have much to be thankful for - so let us choose to focus on those blessings which fill us with energy and give us the impetus to help make the world a better place. May we take the memory of Thanksgiving forward and remember to count our blessings. To remain cognizant of all that today has to offer and to not project negatively about the future. We live amongst great abundance and good fortune. Let us use that knowledge to improve the world - to make someone else's life better through our good deeds. And in this way, may we become a blessing to all the world.