A month later…

September 3, 2010

A month has passed since our last communication. In some ways the world is a bit better, in many ways it is terribly disturbing. Nature won’t calm down, violence is on the rise. We continue in our deep feelings of distrust. The beauty of compromise seems so strange to as if to say we, humans, have very little in common and must therefore be ready to take to the streets and destroy one another.

In our last communication we spoke of the forthcoming Rosh Hashana (the Jewish New Year). In its celebration the deepest sense of renewal, repear, return and reconstruction is with us. We have been taught by our teachers on the tenth day of the month of Tishrei G-d awaits us. He sends forth a message: “No matter how you have missed the mark that is yours, I still welcome you to my side”. You are forgiven. Our tradition teaches us that G-d is aware of our human failings. G-d realizes we walk, we race, we stumble and we rise up and start again.

That is the message of our Holy days.

I wish you a good and healthy year.

Rabbi Harry Sky



August 4, 2010

Dear friends, many months have gone by. My circumstances prevented me from continuing our correspondence. Thank, G-d, things are back to normal therefore let’s reconnect.

We, of the Jewish Faith, are beginning to think of the Holy Days that are almost upon us. As usual, we are taking stock and asking ourselves “Have we responded to the great tasks of human living? Are we related to one another? Have we sought connections or have we been guilty of creating divisions between one another?” The second question being posed in this moment of history – “Are we penned in, unable to stretch our limbs and add our creative thoughts to the great debates of our time?”. A third question “Have we granted ourselves the privilege of free expression or do we feel it is our duty to forever say Amen and never ask Why?”

These are serious questions… Most of the problems facing humankind are outgrowths of untruth, fear of not being accepted, forever sensing someone is watching us and waiting to trip us up. I for one, feel this is not G-d’s way. This is human failing. We have been taught by the Great teachers of the East and the West, the Truth shall make you free. When truth is taken from the table then the human fails.

I would like to dialogue with you. May I hear from you?

Harry Sky

Optimism or pessimism

November 17, 2009

That is everyone’s question these days. The problems that faced us when President Obama took office are still with us. Not as extreme as they were on that fateful day. I choose to be optimistic. I have seen too much in my lifetime. I have ridden the crests, I climbed the mountains and I have been many times a captive of the valleys. I have seen the good and I have tasted its opposite. Yet, I believe in life and am convinced it has a dynamic of its own. The Bernie Madoffs do not win. When their illicit gains are put out for public display they seem to be nothing more than the gathering of garage sale material. The financiers, the CEOs, the dishonest political persona are caught in their own web. If truth be told the debris is more difficult in the cleaning up than the decisions of the great and the mighty who are the source of our pain and suffering.

Sometimes I feel I am a star gaser looking in the sky for tell tale signs, hoping the heavens might speak to us.

Yet I remain an optimist. The mystic in me informs me constantly in the chaos lies the seed for the future. Something is emerging. Answers will emerge. Life will go on.

If we follow the road of the Pessimist shrugging our shoulders and saying “it is no use” then what do we have? And what can we expect?

Live with hope and life will win.

Rabbi Harry Sky

So, now what do we do?

November 12, 2009

It seems we have been told by the ballot boxes our greatest fear is the possibility of someone entering into our minds and psyche and introducing alien notions. As if to say there exist in this world people with absolute knowledge of human kind and what human should be. These arbiters of extraordinary knowledge, the bearers of the most ancient wisdom claim their way is the only way for you and me.

Some of them would go so far as to say those who differ with them are Satanic forces undermining Nature itself. My tradition has always taught me the essence of greatness lies in our humility, not in our far reaching arrogance.

On November 3rd, after the returns were in I was sad. I supported “No on 1”. I have felt for many years the guiding light for true and honest relationships stem from an inner light given to us by the Creator and carried by us into this world. A true relationship can take many forms. They do not have to be “traditional”. I am almost 86 years old, from my youngest days to my current old age I have met many people, many works of art, many significant moments and knew the truth of a moment was dictated by my psyche, the God spirit in me.

I am sure we will try again. I am sure this next time we won’t listen to the fear mongers who tried to tell us personal choice is not God’s way.

Rabbi Harry Sky

Daily miracles

November 3, 2009

In Jewish tradition the word we translate “miracle” is nes. A nes is a sign, like a flag, waiving above a building or a marker, drawing your attention to something special. Thus the holiday of Hanukkah which we will soon celebrate is known as the great nes that occurred in the years of our ancestors.

Every day when I awake, I have a feeling being alive is a nes. As if I am being alerted to what has to be done whether it is a mundane task or a spiritual task. A nes is a nes no matter what the task may be. Furthermore, the nisim (nes in the plural) are many. Every day a nes occurs and every day we are overwhelmed by that fact.

So what are the nisim of these days?
1.The fact that we are still functioning as a society;
2.The fact that so many people are reconsidering their lives and finding hidden talents oft times leading to new undertakings;
3. The sensitivity that we felt was lacking in our society appears in the most unlikely places;
4.The moguls of yesterday have come down a peg or two. Some of them may in the near future start serving time for their misdeeds.
5.Wherever you turn these days you hear a story. It usually is about someone who had the reputation of being self-centered and selfish suddenly showing some interest in anothers’ fate.

I consider all of these facts nisim. Two or three years ago we would laugh at the soft-hearted and sympathetic among us. It showed a lack of strength. Our leaders were constantly telling us “We must never show weakness or be inclined to care for others. Your concern should be numero uno, namely yourself”. If I am correct in my judgment of the changes taking place in our society then, perhaps, the day of peace may be closer than we realize.

Rabbi Harry Sky

Holiday of Sukkah

October 9, 2009

Throughout the Jewish world we are celebrating this week the Holiday of Sukkot. A Sukkah is a temporary storage place usually found in ancient days in the middle of arable land. Crops sometimes were gathered in and left in the three-sided structure known as the sukkah. Many tomes have been written trying to get to the bottom of it all. The regulations for Sukkot were many. It could not be too high, it could not be too strong. If a Sukkah can survive a strong wind it lost its meaning. A Sukkah is a temporary structure.

Many of the commentators who looked at life symbolically said the Sukkah is incomplete, the special power of G-d is needed to firm it up. Some said a human gathers materials, puts it together, a human can store many products of nature in the Sukkah yet if G-d is not involved it remains incomplete. Recently I have been asked by some of the recipients of my blog who is this G-d of whom you speak? My answer is simple: G-d is the power that helps us complete the incomplete. Thus one reads if G-d is not involved the enterprise must seek fulfillment. Sukkot is the celebration of G-d in the natural process.

We can assure ourselves of G-d’s involvement when our enterprise is totally embracing. When we say the Sukkah, the structure invites everyone into it.

Hag Sameah, a happy Holiday.

Rabbi Harry Sky

A new season, a new hope…

September 10, 2009

Welcome back to our working days. Labor Day has come and passed, the Congress has returned and we are, I hope, in all seriousness ready to tackle life’s problems. It has been said “a society is judged by its sense of compassion”. How do you feel about the least among you? Is that person’s welfare of concern to you? Does your heart hurt when you hear the sad stories of illness ignored or sorrow dismissed? Are you ready to share your life with that of another? What about the person who suddenly fell off his pedestal and found himself groveling in the dust? Our Jewish sages taught us “compassion not extended at a moment of great despair is equal to the punishment of the innocent.” It is a matter of great hope for the future that every segment of our society admits the health system in this country is broken and subject to an ultimate disintegration. Seldom have we seen such unanimity. Even the arch-conservatives are saying “all is not well”.

What can we expect? First, compassion. Second, the reaching out of one to another. Third, a new sense of faith in our society. Great good will come out of this debate. Personally I feel I am my brother’s keeper. I can’t live any other way.

Within a week’s time we will be celebrating Rosh Hashanah – the beginning of the Jewish New Year. We will pray for ourselves and others, but above all we will pray that the world will find a way to admit and confess: “we are all one, responsible for each other”.

Rabbi Harry Sky

A little here, a little there…

August 24, 2009

In a moment of consolation the Prophet Isaiah urged “A little here, a little there…” In pondering over this phrase I felt he was speaking to me and our times. Unfortunately in this country because of its size we always expect gigantic answers, gigantic cars, gigantic TVs and gigantic bank accounts. During this current Health debate we are suffering from the same malady. We expect everything to be healed at once. It can’t be! That is not Nature’s way. Nature tells us “A little here, a little there”.

What should we really be doing? Very few people will insist status quo is adequate. More and more people feel the pain of the millions who are not subject to Medical care. The stories of children being neglected tears our hearts. The story of people who have to choose between bread on the table and the high cost of drugs is heart wrenching. We do not wish that on ourselves, nor do we wish it on others. Many of us who have a sense of history realize the universal medical plans of Europe are an outgrowth of the plagues that Europe suffered in the late Middle Ages. They realized many times the carriers of the diseases were people who live in dire circumstances, who never visited a physician’s office. To protect the many you have to insulate the few. That is the reason for universal medical care. At last we are addressing the very same problems in our country. Will we succeed? Will we overcome the many obstacles that stand in the way? Who knows… Each day brings us another problem. It also brings us a victory. Another piece of the puzzle has been solved. Above all we must have Faith. We can’t forever be one sided, always asking how will we pay for it. We faced the same problem during the Second World War and we adopted the Marshall Plan which brought Europe back to its feet. The same thing will happen again. Have Faith. And follow Isaiah’s formula of “A little here, a little there”.

Rabbi Harry Sky

Spiritual Wellness

August 17, 2009

The term “wellness” is being bandied about. We are being told daily: unless we change the direction of the Health debate our efforts will be in vain. We are being told: the new approach should be related to the struggle for wellness. Wellness requires an attitude of mind. Wellness proponents tell us: we are the masters of our fate. We can bring ourselves to a state of wellness and continued life or we can live a life without discipline catering to the impulses of the moment. Or as Scripture would say: each person is driven and lives by the urge of the moment. There are many arguments for redirecting our energies, devoting ourselves to a life of “wellness”. It is not a pipe dream. It is a reality. We know enough about the science of the body, what heals and what destroys. But few of us possess the total strength, needed to walk the road of wellness.

A few friends and I have decided we need to set up discussion groups dealing with the wellness we seek for ourselves. Our logic is simple: to save our society we have engaged in political discussions. To save ourselves we need wellness discussions.

We, humans, are aware of the need for physical wellness, but we forget sometimes the call for spiritual wellness. A wellness that leads us to caring for one another, to supporting one another, to bringing hope when despair takes over. For wellness of the spirit often becomes wellness for the body.

Rabbi Harry Sky


August 10, 2009

In sacred scripture we find the phrase “I will lift a cup of ‘Yeshout’ and call in the name of Adonai”. In Hebrew tradition Adonai is the ultimate name of G-d. Thus whenever we find ourselves in a dangerous place or experiencing a moment of dire insecurity we bring the half-full glass of the assurance that comes from faith. Many of us have felt these past six months as if we were standing in the circle of dire consequences. We have been grasping at any hopeful sign and saying “Maybe this too shall pass”… It is as if we, humans, possess a voice that urges us to agree with that American philosopher and baseball hero Yogi – “It ain’t over till it’s over”. Times such as this call for collective approaches to life. Our eyes have to open up and see the potential in ourselves and others, and let it become the banner under which we march. The human has the capacity for hope, for faith and believing a new tomorrow is possible.

Rabbi Harry Sky