October is Breast Cancer awareness month. It is in this month that all of the sports leagues wear pink on the field and there are Breast Cancer walks and clinics. Breast Cancer has destroyed many lives and caused much pain. People truly stand up in this month (and truly all through the year) to bring healing and hope. Harold Schwartz, a survivor of Breast Cancer, approached me at the end of the summer, to see if he could mirror a presentation he is doing at Beit Hayam in Stuart, here at TBS. We looked at the calendar and found a date, October 16th during our Shabbat worship. We have reached out to other Breast Cancer victims and survivors. We are hoping to engage our congregation’s sense of caring community to rally around this issue in this moment. Yet, I am stymied. I am trying to figure out what this month and this Shabbat specifically should look like. Is it stories of people dealing with Breast Cancer? Is it getting resources about screening and treatment and care, into people’s hands? Is it raising money for research? How much pink around our campus would help us tell the story and truly do tikkun, acts of healing?
In a world where everything has an awareness month and there is a lot of schtick, how do we weave the story of breast cancer into our acts of study, ritual and loving kindness?
I write this in the midst of the 10 Days of Repentance, between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, and feel like I am doing an act of Vidui- confession. I am not sure what to teach or preach, but know we must do something. There are acts of caring and listening. There are moments of pain and inspiration. I can see many of the threads we must work with. I am sure there are strings that I am missing. I can say that I honestly don’t know what the tapestry of this month should look like, or how we pull it together in a meaningful and collective way. I hope you will join in this moment and this task. I pray that we will be able to make the most of this one month, and carry the light we see and generate in this month of awareness, into the future of our congregation. I ask you to share and support; to tell your story of strength and seek care for your pain; to let this be an opportunity to spread a Sukkat Shalom, a shelter of peace across our House of Peace.
Contact me or Harold Schwartz and help us make the most of this observance.
Rabbi Michael Birnholz
Temple Beth Shalom