Sunday, August 14, 2016

At Touro Synagogue Saturday, August 13, 2016 Its been “Yuge!”

At Touro Synagogue Saturday, August 13, 2016

Its been “Yuge!”
by Aaron Ginsburg

What is the most distinctive architectural element at Touro Synagogue? The ark? The bimah? The chandeliers? How about the windows? Today they allowed seagulls to join us. 

Rabbi Marc Mandel recounted a conversation last week with a visitor from France. By an open window, the visitor explained that in a French  synagogue, people are afraid to sit by a window, lest they become a target. Today French Jews live in a climate of fear. Armed soldiers stand by for their protection. 

Many are leaving for Netanya, Jerusalem, Miami, Los Angeles, Miami, and New York. As a leader of his synagogue, our visitor is torn. Should he follow his compatriots? Our visitor challenged us, “Do American Jews really appreciate what it means to be able to sit by an open window at Touro Synagogue.”

Kiddish today was sponsored Naftali and Rhonda Sabo in honor of honor their 45th anniversary and of Naftali’s birthday and. Before reciting the Haftarah, Tal observed that the prophet Isaiah was the person Israel needed when the First Temple was destroyed. Isaiah issued words of warning and words of comfort. 

Today's Haftarah Isaiah 1:1-27 always precedes Tisha B’av.  Isaiah condemns the hypocritical observances of his time, “What need have I of all your sacrifices?…Your new moons and fixed seasons Fill Me with loathing; They are become a burden to Me, I cannot endure them.” What does the Almighty want? “Learn to do good. Devote yourselves to justice; Aid the wronged. Uphold the rights of the orphan; Defend the cause of the widow.”

At Kiddish, Rhonda Sabo spoke. Her topic was “Crossing the Bridge to the World of the Other (and what I have learned from Martin Buber)”. 

Come in Houston,"Is that
 Rhonda's (from Niles, IL) footprint?
We hear she is flying high
after seeing Naftali. Please confirm."
In 1969, when the Apollo mission was headed for the moon, Rhonda read  Martin Buber in her Psychology 101 class. But Buber did not make much of an impression! She had just met a prince sitting on a white horse, Naftali Sabo, sitting on her cousin’s  white couch. This did not go unnoticed in the heavens: Sky high Rhonda was undoubtedly  encountered by the Apollo mission. 

Like all relationships, their marriage has had ups and downs. We were happy to celebrate with them today. As Donald Trump might say, it's been "Yuge." Rhonda does not usually quote from the Trump but it fits. Bernie Saunders also says, “Yuge.” Bernie and Donald were both born in Brooklyn and tawk like New Yawkers.

Rhonda wanted to be a couple therapist. But her early experiences discouraged her. She either was not good at it, or the approaches she tried weren’t effective. 

Rhonda  devoted over 20 years of work career to helping patients with Multiple Personality Disorder(Dissociative Identity Disorder). The disorder follows a trauma; psychotherapy is a recognized treatment. 

A few years ago  Mona, a friend, suggested that the dissociative personalities were starting to rub off. Perhaps Rhonda should revisit couples therapy. New models of treatment emphasized the relationship between a man and a women, rather than their individual issues.

These approaches owe a lot to Martin Buber. In his book I and Thou, I-it is a relationship that looks at the second party as an object, while I-Thou looks at a relationship as including the whole of its members. Buber is over my head.  Let’s say in I-Thou we merge, while in I-it we remain separate.

Was Buber was thinking of Shakespeare's sonnet 116,  “Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit  impediment?” Shakespeare's love takes on a life of its own that's eternal and strong enough to survive the storms and tempests that we encounter.

Rumi, (Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī) 1207-1273, formulated the idea,  

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing 
and rightdoing there is a field.”

Rumi is one of the most published poets in the United State. He founded the Whirling Dervish sect. Whirling Dervishes, famous for their dance, take a vow of poverty and beg to learn humility. The funds cannot be for themselves but must be used for charity. The Whirling Dervishes were suppressed by Turkey in the 1920s and were only allowed to resume their activities in the 1950s when the government realized they were a tourist attraction.

Sometimes even the strongest building needs maintenance. That's where relational couples therapy comes in. Rhonda now devotes herself to strengthening a couple’s relationship. Strengthening the relationship will lift the partners, helping them deal with their personal issues.  


Rhonda and Naftali in 1969
Did Rhonda know that while she prepared her talk Tal was preparing some photos of the highlights of their relationship, from when they just met in 1969 to a wedding two years later,  to their son’s wedding, and to their two grandsons? A good relationship is an adventure. After 45 years  it's been “Yuge!"  

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