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07/27/2023 08:59:55 AM


Rabbi Jeffrey Myers

We have an expectation that anytime we gather with other people, the rules of civility reign. Kindness, compassion, warmth, hospitality and generosity of spirit should be ever-present. Should be has become the operative verb, because those expectations are not always fulfilled. Do you wonder if you have set the bar too high, that our standards of human behavior are relics from a bygone era? Perhaps, but this past Sunday, they were overflowing in ways that can only restore one’s confidence in humanity.

I was the guest of the Hindu Jain community at their magnificent temple in Monroeville (that’s in Pennsylvania for foreigners). To say I was merely a guest would be an understatement. The warmth and hospitality demonstrated by everyone present, and I mean everyone, was so uplifting. The program was organized by Julie Paris, regional director of Stand With Us, Bhavini Patel, a leader of the community, and other members of the community. I met a visiting priest, Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji, who founded this temple forty years ago, as well as Pujya Swamiji, who spoke of her journey as a young Jewish woman from California towards enlightenment. I spoke of the origins of the word shalom and the crucial need for people of faith to gather and bring it back into the world.

In the aftermath of the massacre in Tree of Life, many faith communities reached out in love and compassion, and the Hindu Jain community was one of them. Their members attended our Friday evening services for many weeks as a sign of support, bringing with them an enormous card they created, signed by so many of them, as well as a generous donation towards rebuilding. There is much more that we have in common with the Hindu and Jain communities than not, and an opportunity to gather together in prayer and to eat together afterwards was so uplifting. They presented me with a large bouquet of flowers, a Hindu prayer shawl and books, and I had the privilege of participating in the lighting of the Diya.

When devote people of good will gather together, there is so much that is possible. This gathering provided me with an opportunity to publicly acknowledge and thank the Hindu and Jain communities in their own temple for their friendship and support these nearly five years, and the necessity to restart the engines of change that were stuck in neutral primarily due to COVID. The truest way to effect change is through communal efforts, and the eagerness of the Hindu and Jain communities, when combined with other faith communities that we have befriended and worked together these past five years, holds promise for a better America. I pray that the energy and support of our Hindu and Jain friends promotes further efforts to effect a better community here in Pittsburgh, and through it, a better world. Namaste.

Sun, September 24 2023 9 Tishrei 5784