A rendition of Psalms 150 "Halleluyah" graced the eardrums of the seats filled with smiling faces and victors. I faintly smiled and was whisked away by nostalgia, as the lull of the soft melody danced within my being. The moment had come where the splendor of this melody's tune met the triumph and completion of a seven-year journey. As the song played on, I was reminded of its meaning to me. It had taught me that praise and thanksgiving outweighs defeat and despair. Darkness cannot help but yield to light when the choice is made to live in an atmosphere of praise and gratitude.
I was jolted out of my trance when I heard my cue, "Eliana Alyzah Bat Avraham." It was at this moment I felt the pain, struggles, and obstacles overtaken by the vast power of victory and joy.
Through tear-filled eyes of gratitude, I looked up at the Ner Tamid and quietly said, "Thank you G-d…Thank you." I ascended the stairs of the bimah. The chains and locks of defeat that bound me over the years dissipated into the light of triumph.
In awe, I felt the cloak of G-d's sovereignty, love, and anointing envelope my being. Hands were placed upon my shoulders as the Priestly Benediction was recited. I then heard "I am honored to call you Rabbi." Those powerful words closed one long chapter of my life and opened another. With my new cloak snuggly wrapped around me, I stepped down those stairs and onto the path that was divinely laid before me. The journey of hope, faith, and obedience to the One.
I had a beautiful day today. I stood with my sister, a passionate rabbi serving the U.S. Navy as a chaplain, at the World War II Memorial in Washington D.C. We remembered our grandfather of blessed memory, who fought for America and shared hard-earned wisdom with his children and grandchildren.
I looked to my right and saw the Washington Monument. Looked to my left at the Lincoln Memorial. I read quotes engraved on massive stones. And I felt, to my core, one sad feeling: too much war.
Too. Much. War.
The quotes and certain retellings of history would have me believe that we fought for pure purposes: we fought for religious freedom, we fought to end slavery, we fought for freedom for all humanity, we fought to end tyranny. But it's also true that we fought (and fight) for economic interests. It&…