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.

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