Sign In Forgot Password

Chaye Sarah 5783 ~ Thanksgiving 2022

After the death of Sarah, our patriarch Abraham recognizes that he has an important task left incomplete. That task was to find a wife for his son Isaac, but Abraham did not want his son to take a bride from the land in which he dwelled. Rather, he wished that his son would take a bride from the old country, where people had a different perspective on life.

Abraham wasn’t far from wrong, for as the story opens, we see a bargaining for land that appears to be centered around those who have and those who do not have land. The difference was quite substantial, and though for Abraham the cost of land was not  of consequence, he did recognize that in the land of Canaan there was clearly an issue that needed to be addressed.    So, he sends his chief advisor and steward Eliezer back to the land of Haran to find a bride for Isaac. In many ways, Abraham’s understanding of the societal norms of the time was no different than when the Founding Fathers stated that “all men are created equal,” with the definition of “men” specifically as males who were landowners.

As Eliezer arrives at the outskirts of the hometown of Abraham, he waits at the town watering well for the men to arrive so as to inquire where he might find some of Abraham’s relatives. And, as he patiently awaits their arrival, a young woman, Rebecca, arrives at the town well first. Seeing a stranger with camels, she turns to him and offers him water and provides water for his camel, as well. In doing so, she goes against the custom of the town of waiting until everyone is present, with a hierarchy of wealth, political power and gender as the rule as to who draws water first.  Eliezer then recognized that this young woman understood and that her values clearly followed those of Abraham, which were important in the choice of a wife for Isaac.

This week, as we prepare for Thanksgiving, the Greater New London Clergy Association, challenges us to think both like Abraham and Eliezer and to act in the manner of Rebecca. This week the GNLC has dedicated our thoughts to overcoming the imbalance in our community which has been reported in the Day and is somewhat related to our Torah reading for this Shabbat. It is the reality of the difficulty of those with “less” to not only find adequate housing, but housing itself. It is the issues of the Branford Manor and other places, of landlords of low-income housing not caring about the welfare of their tenants, allowing their buildings to go into disrepair, creating unhealthy living standards, including toxic mold overtaking the living quarters. With a greater than normal housing demand in our area, there is a shortage of housing for low-income families. Homelessness and subpar housing are issues that the GNLCA is asking us all to be aware of as we prepare for our own Thanksgiving.

As I write this message, I am starting to receive the first calls of the winter season for assistance. I know that in a few months the calls will come in for assistance with fuel, food and other items. I am pleased that over the years, the Rabbi’s Discretionary Fund has been able to assist. Today, there is a first priority – a roof over the heads of those with low incomes and even moderate incomes. In that regard, the GNLCA is bringing the awareness of the great work of the Homeless Hospitality Center, which is located just down the street from our office on Shaw St.  Their staff work diligently in not only providing assistance but also in attending local government meetings to address the issue of the need for housing, affordable rents and the proper maintenance of low-income apartments.

Abraham noticed the reality of the landowner in the society into which he moved as he went to purchase land simply for their burial of Sarah. Eliezer noticed the same hierarchy in another land, and we must be cognizant of it in ours, as well.

Shabbat shalom and, in advance, Happy Thanksgiving.

Sat, April 1 2023 10 Nisan 5783