Marc's Current Journal

Kol Shalom Koli Kulanu November 2019

Hawai’i Thanksgiving

Annette and I recently returned from a terrific vacation in Hawaii (or Hawai’i as the locals spell it). Although I grew up in California, I had never travelled there, nor had Annette. Our daughter and son-in-law went there a few years ago, raved about it, and urged us to go, saying they knew we would love it. They were right, we did!

We had many wonderful experiences there, saw many beautiful places, and enjoyed the mountains, weather, and beaches. Three experiences stood out: we visited Pearl Harbor and the remains of the USS Arizona, we went stargazing at a moderately high altitude, and we visited Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. I’m writing about these because they cause me to be thankful, appropriate for Thanksgiving upcoming in the next few days.

I am thankful following our Pearl Harbor visit. Visiting the USS Arizona memorial, and viewing the history video preceding the short boat ride to the memorial, filled us with emotion. We continued thinking about the tragic loss of live, the hundreds of sailors still buried in the wreckage of that great battleship, the valor of the soldiers who went to war and defeated fascism, and the ongoing imperative to combat racism and despotism. So many important thoughts. Ultimately, one must be thankful for those who fought and died, and who continue to fight and resist while in harm’s way. And one must be tremendously thankful for our country, long may it live in freedom.

I am thankful following the stargazing session. We joined about a dozen others to see the sunset, and then after dark our guide set up a telescope with a large lens, maybe a foot in diameter. For my first time ever, I saw Jupiter’s moons and Saturn’s rings, plus stars and an amazingly clear view of the full moon. The line from the opening prayer of the evening service comes to mind:

Barukh atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melekh ha’olam, asher bid’varo ma’ariv aravim, b’hokhmah potei’ah sh’arim, uvit’vunah m’shaneh itim, umahalif et haz’manim, um’sader et hakokhavim, b’mishm’roteihem baraki’ah kirtzono

Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the universe, who speaks the evening into being, skillfully opens the gates, thoughtfully alters the time and changes the seasons, and arranges the stars in their heavenly courses according to plan.

One can only be filled with awe when one looks into the heavens on a beautiful night. How amazingly large and complex the universe is, how infinitesimally small we are. It inspires me to be thankful for the world, for its perfection and beauty.

I am thankful from experiencing Volcanoes National Park. Many of us remember the volcanic eruptions that occurred there two years ago. We walked on the edge of the caldera, much larger now that it once was, and we walked on lava flows both new (cutting off roads, for example) and old. One can’t help but marvel at the tremendous power of the earth, which can melt rock, throw lava and rock into the air, and cause rivers of molten rock to flow like honey down the hillside and into the sea.

Again, a phrase from our morning prayers (taken from Psalm 104:24) kept coming to mind:

Mah rabu ma’asekha Adonai, kulam b’hokhmah asita, mal’ah ha’aretz kinyanekha

How many Your deeds O Lord, all of them You do in wisdom, All the earth is filled with Your riches.

I am thankful that I got to experience the beauty and power of nature in some small way. I am of course thankful that I have not been affected by a natural disaster like a lava flow.

This Thanksgiving, in addition to being thankful for family, friends, bounty, our kehillah k’dosha of Kol Shalom, I’ll also be thankful for those who protect us and maintain order, for the majesty of the universe, and for the earth’s power. In my way of thinking all of this reflects God and the influence of God.

I want to be in dialogue with you. You can click here to send me a message, or you can email me at [email protected] . I am thrilled to hear from you, to get to know you better, and to hear your suggestions on continuing Kol Shalom’s growth and value to you.

Thank you for your help and for your part in our kehillah k’dosha, our sacred community!

Marc Lieber, President