Carrying Light into Dark Times
Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi

The following address was given by Reb Zalman to the Oberlin College graduating class of 2003, which included Reb Zalman's son, Barya.

Reverend colleagues of the clergy, Mme. President and Administrators of Oberlin College, academic colleagues, Graduating Students and their celebrating parents,

For this moment, which we got to live, to experience, and to celebrate we give thanks: Shehechiyanu!

Psalm 100
This is how you sing to God a thank You song:
You join the symphony of the whole Earth.
In your gratefulness you meet Him,
voices echo joy in God's halls.
In giving thanks we engage Her blessings.
We meet His goodness here and now,
Her encouragement from generation to generation.
You are filled with joy serving God's purpose.
You sound your own song as you do it.
Certain that God is Be-ing,
we know that we are brought forth from Her,
both God's companions and His flock.
Enter into God's Presence,
Singing your own song
in grateful appreciation.
Thank You God, You are all Blessing.
In this world You are goodness, Yes, Grace itself.
This is the trust we bequeath the next generation.

* * * * *

The psalms have a hope for us
as we find ourselves in a dark tunnel.

There are many sore places of the planet.
Our mother the earth needs healing
from her ecological wounds.
From clear cutting, strip mining,
damage to the ozone layer,
monoculture of crops
to the polluting or soil, air and water.

The social fabric of our culture
is brittle and short fibered.

Intimate relationships are sustainable
only with intensive and serious maintenance.

Our government has turned against the poor
while lining the pockets of the rich.
Lavish budgets are invested
in what they euphemistically call
" national de-fense"
investing more than any nation
in building armaments of mass destruction
while education, health and welfare
are languishing.
The tax burdens are being shifted
Onto the shoulders of nearly bankrupt states.
The road ahead is not smooth.

And still we are now celebrating a graduation.

Barya my son,
I talk to you and your colleagues
I wish I had those optimistic words
usually offered that send you off
into a world where all is waiting
for your advancement and success;
a world where the graduate scholarships
are waiting for you
to develop further
and live the good life.
Instead I see immense burdens
of student loans
in a sparse job market.

It is not encouraging.

There are some good things awaiting you
but they are not pleasant
and you and your cohort
will have to prepare yourself
for the tasks ahead.

Here I have only one counsel to offer;
Kindness to each other,
to your own self
and to those with whom you will interact.

1       [2]       [3]       [4]       [next->]

October 2003

Carrying Light into Dark Times
Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi

With a Bible and a Gun:
The Prohetic Justice of Johnny Cash
Samuel Hayim Brody

Season of Revision
Jay Michaelson

Primal Scream Judaism
Temima Fruchter

More than This
Dan Friedman

Josh's Dinner
Josh Ring

Our 390 Back Pages

David Stromberg

Zeek in Print
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From previous issues:

Abraham Mezrich

Yom Kippur
Sara Seinberg

What the World is...
Jay Michaelson
and what to do about it.

The Gifts of the German Jews
Michael Shurkin
Toward a postmodern Judaism