January 28, 2009

Paying It Forward

Les Sarnoff is blogging about his fight with cancer. His voice has been part of Oregonians' lives for so long, we feel he's family. Well, today he's writing about the importance of helping others, and the concept of "paying it forward." And it reminded me that I never shared this wonderful true story with you.

Last summer, some friends of ours downsized to a condo, and gave us a spare T.V. We were delighted, and wanted to thank them, so we decided to get them some sort of gift certificate. There's a coffee place they like, so I went there to get a gift card. The young woman at the cash register attempted to process the purchase, but she was clearly perturbed. The machine showed that the purchase was paid, but I hadn't actually paid yet. She pressed a LOT of buttons, cocked her head a lot, then tested the card, and concluded that there was no reason, not even any WAY for me to actually pay! I begged her to take my phone number, because the till would likely come up short at the end of the day, but she insisted "no, it's our problem."

So I walked out thinking "This is my lucky day. Maybe I should buy a lottery ticket!" And then I thought "No, I need to donate this money that I just saved, to some worthwhile cause." As i walked to my car, I considered many possible charities. But when I got in the car and turned on the ignition, the radio was already on, and the KINK disc jockey was saying ".... and they're accepting donations right now."

It was a real Twilight Zone moment! I listened carefully to hear which charity they were discussing, went straight home to check the website, and immediately made a donation online.

This became the ultimate "pay it forward." We got a free tv, our friends got free coffee, the charity got a cash donation, and Oregon's schools & students benefit. How cool is that??

January 7, 2009

A Tragic Loss

This past Yom Kippur, I ventured out of my little world, and attended services at Portland's Renewal congregation, P'nai Or. It was an amazing experience, full of music and meaning and heartfelt confessions. And they did this amazing thing with Unetaneh Tokef, intertwined with Leonard Cohen's song, "Who By Fire."

Of course, the heart of this congregation has been their Rabbi, Aryeh Hirschfield. His spirit and music and passion were irresistable, and inspiring. His charisma & strong sense of ethics reminded me of my departed father. The congregation loved him, and it was easy to see why.

So, today I was more than stunned by the news of Rabbi Aryeh's untimely drowning death yesterday. Like so many in our community, I am striving unsuccessfully to make sense of this tragedy. And the words of Unetaneh Tokef just keep running through my mind.... who shall perish by water....

Everybody ever touched by Rabbi Aryeh is grieving tonight. It is unbearably sad. But there is also a certain magnificence in the power of love that binds us together in our grief. May his righteous memory be for a blessing... zecher tzadik livracha.