Seeking The Light Of Peace
e should do it again next year.
That was my first thought as we sang "God
Bless America" to close the ecumenical prayer
service and candlelighting ceremony in
remembrance of Sept. 11, 2001.
I didn't think that way going into the Sept. 11, 2002,
service at Temple Israel, sponsored by the West Bloomfield
Clergy Association and Community Forum.
Though deeply troubled by the horror and tragedy that
Islamic militants wrought on America when they hijacked
four commercial jetliners and turned them into missiles six
days before Rosh Hashanah last year, I
wasn't convinced we should turn 9-11 into
an annual day to commemorate the 3,000
innocent victims, as well as the heroes and
survivors, of America's darkest day. We
should remember them every day in defer-
ence to the freedoms that we enjoy, I felt.
But after the emotional lift from the
service, I changed my mind. I realized that
ROBERT A. we must also come together in an organ-
ized way to continually remind us that big-
otry still exists. I realized that we must
continue to gather to remember, pray and
recommit to a world free from violence
and terror — to collectively confront evil and
In the afterglow of the service, Fred Erlich of
Bloomfield Hills echoed the views of many in the
audience when he said: "It put an end to the year
of grief. The coming year is going to be a year of
hope. Good follows bad. We've got to look forward
Cantor Lori Corrsin of Temple Israel set the spir-
itual tone for the service in singing "Or Chadash,"
a musical message to God she wrote in the after-
math of 9,-11. "Hear my prayer," she sang, "that I'll
see a new light deep within me."
With friends and neighbors of different races and reli-
gions, we rallied together toward what Temple Israel Rabbi
Joshua Bennett called "the light of peace." There we stood,
1,200 strong — Jews, Christians and Muslims — united in
that we were all Americans. I felt proud to be Jewish and
"Tonight, my friends, we have come to remember —
and remembrance is always a good thing," said the Rev.
Patrick Thompson of Church of Our Saviour. He's presi-
dent of the clergy association and chaplain for West
Bloomfield's police and fire departments.
And he's right: We needed to join hands to celebrate the
resilience of. the American spirit.
Strength In Unity
From the opening and closing blasts of the shofar by
Birmingham Groves High School student Zachary Chutz
and University of Michigan-Dearborn graduate student
Jason Chess, I felt a sense of oneness among us. For the
moment anyway, our political or religious differences were
"We search for meaning in a world that appears to have
lost its moral way," Rabbi Bennett said. "But we have
learned from this new experience that communities build
strength from despair — and that growth and prosperity
come from times of difficulty."
& TIM RICE'S
In a statement read by Rabbi Elliot Pachter of
Congregation B'nai Moshe, U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, D-
Michigan, expressed confidence that America will prevail
"against the enemy of terrorism and will remain .a beacon
of hope to the oppressed everywhere."
Like the senator, I believe in the U.S military, but I'm
not sure we have the wherewithal just yet to root out ter-
rorist cells in every nook and cranny of the world.
Still, I concur with Levin that "an unquenchable love of
freedom and an unwavering commitment to democracy are
our backbone." We need that to be our backbone, especial-
ly for our kids.
West Bloomfield resident David Mayer underscored why
in the lyrics of the "Children's Anthem," sung by a group
of local elementary school students he directed:
Take my hand, help me understand
How to make a world where kids can grow
Building bridges to the sun
We can work together as one.
Paths To Peace
I cringed when Victor Begg of the Muslim Unity Center
quoted from the Koran, but didn't specifically renounce
Islamic militancy, something no Detroit Islamic leader has
done. But on this evening of memory and hope, though I
wondered how many of us of different faiths were truly
neighbors despite living in the same neighborhoods, I
believed that Begg was sincere when he said, "Shalom
aleichem. Peace be with you."
I needed to believe that, if I was going to value the
resolution for peace that the clergy and the public
signed to "pledge ourselves to be instruments of tran-
quility and channels of God's peace.
The resolution reads in part: "Let no person ever
condone, nor preach, any message of terrorism or vio-
lence that makes an idol of God and profanity of the
Corrsin traditions we hold dear."
It concludes, "May we build a civilization of love in
every city and corner of the Earth. May God show us
the many gateways to peace."
The resolution and accompanying signatures will be saved
in a bound memorial book that will travel to local synagogues,
churches and mosques. It will be formally presented Jan. 20 at
United We Walk Day in West Bloomfield, an event held in
conjunction with the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
The peace signing will continue to have meaning once the
emotion of the first yahrzeit (memorial) of 9-11 fades only if
the flames of the remembrance candles sustain the promise of
a better world — where hatred crumbles under the weight of
harmony. We can't let the flicker of those flames blind us to
how quickly good intentions wilt without the twin spurs of
diligence and dedication.
The victims, heroes and survivors of 9-11 require us "to
commit ourselves to holy work that honors their memory and
fills the world with more holiness, hope and peace," Steve
Wasko, a West Bloomfield school administrator, said in the
closing prayer. That's because "as long as we live, they, too, will
live, for they are now a part of us."
I found hope in how Gary Faber, superintendent of West
Bloomfield Schools, put it as we walked to our cars, buoyed
by the energy of the evening:
"It was a totally, totally beautiful, moving program that
saw the people of this community coming together for all
the right reasons. It's going to make this a stronger com-
munity and, I believe: a lighthouse community for other
communities across the nation as days go on." El
THE TIMELESS LOVE STORY
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