Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Friday: Tragedy & Triumph!

Dear Andrea,

Friday was quite a memorable day at Beth Emet. Tragedy and triumph!

I have never quite seen before a funeral as the one for Mary Ann Lachman. The choreography of the ceremony really got into the essence of who Mary Ann Lachman really was and you deserve credit for putting it all together in such a short time. You masterly told her narrative as well as her daughter Julia by reading her mother's letter written to her. It really told us who she was in her own words. It was a remarkable tribute to Mary Ann's life to let us all know what her life was and meant to her and those around her and more importantly, what we can learn for better leading our own lives through her own example.

Whenever I experience something extraordinary at Beth Emet, I have a saying, "Only at Beth Emet".

This can also be said for the evening celebrated with members of Second Baptist Church of Evanston. Of all the ecumenical events I have attended with and at Beth Emet in my thirty seven years as a member, this event was the most meaningful, warmest, and memorable one. Although many people volunteered to pull this off, your relations with interfaith circles, leadership in Beth Emet's involvement, and no doubt, overall direction of pursuing and overseeing this event to fruition demonstrates what a true asset you are for ecumenicism in both Beth Emet and the larger community.

Beth Emet has participated in many ecumenical undertakings in the past.  Depending on the era, (my God, am I getting old) they have been tinged with suspicion, reserve, and discomfort together with sincerity of effort, goodwill, and hope. But under your astute leadership, it has been taken to a whole new level moving us forward. Friday night is the most recent example.

As at the morning's tragic funeral, the evenings triumph was perfectly choreographed. From the tragedy and the triumph, we learned much in which to ponder. Both events are linked by the message of honoring the past, living in the present, and attempting to shape the future while accepting that we are all part of and influenced by an inexplicable larger whole.

I was twelve years old when King spoke at Beth Emet. Only five short years later I was deeply involved in the civil rights movement in college. Listening to the King tape for the second time, I realize a whole lifetime for me has passed and I am still immersed in dealing with seemingly never ending struggles for advancing human and civil rights.  Dinner with a young family from Second Baptist showed me that those who experienced history have a never ending obligation to share that with those who are following us to make the world better. It also reminded me that those who are getting along in age like me have much to learn from those following us. And having three young and adorable toddlers at our table for me to google at sealed the deal.

I want to sincerely thank you for your inspiring leadership and all those people who helped in planning and carrying out these events that made it such a special day. Only at Beth Emet!

Seymour Schwartz

P.S. The whole day was so emotional and exhausting I overslept the next morning and missed attending the Kahal service.


Gladys said...

Well said Seymour!

Gladys said...

Well said Seymour!