| Clergy Corner

CLERGY CORNER: Be grateful!

Posted on 27 November 2015 by L.Moore

Andrew Carnegie was considered to be the richest man in America during his lifetime. Having made his wealth in the steel industry, he advocated for philanthropy and practiced what he preached by reportedly giving away over $350 million to public charities. I recently read that he also left $1 million to one of his relatives, who was consequently displeased with the amount when compared to the large sums given to other causes. He should have been grateful that he got anything at all.

Samuel Liebowitz was a criminal lawyer and judge who reportedly saved 78 men from the electric chair. It is said that none of them ever thanked him.

In the Gospels, it is recorded that Jesus was approached by 10 lepers who begged him to heal them. He instructed them to go and show themselves to the priest. On the way, they were all healed but only one returned to thank the Lord. Jesus publicly inquired about the other nine, noting that only one had returned to voice his appreciation.

The expression of gratitude is a characteristic of civilized society. We were taught as children to say “thank you” when given gifts, on receiving a compliment or when we were the objects of the kindness of strangers. Good manners dictate that we acknowledge the graciousness of our fellowman. Only animals and barbarians are so callous in their disregard of others, and so consumed with themselves, that they display no sense of indebtedness for acts of good will.

Bible teacher H.A. Ironside was said to be dining in a crowded restaurant when he was approached by a gentleman who asked to share the table with him. He consented and then bowed his head to give thanks for his meal, as was his custom. The surprised gentleman inquired if Dr. Ironside was ill or displeased with his food.

Upon learning that Dr. Ironside was engaging in a habit of thanking God for his meal, the gentleman scoffed, “Oh, you’re one of those, are you? Well, I want you to know I never give thanks. I earn my money by the sweat of my brow and I don’t have to give thanks to anybody when I eat. I just start right in.”

Dr. Ironside replied, “Yes, you’re just like my dog. That’s what he does, too!”

As we prepare to celebrate another Thanksgiving Day, we ought to be grateful for the many blessings and good things that we are able to enjoy. Even in the seemingly difficult circumstances of life, and with all of the chaos that exists on a national and worldwide level, we can still find a reason to be grateful. Life may not be all that we would desire for it to be, but consider that things could be a lot worse than they are right now. Somewhere on this planet there is someone who would gladly trade places with you.

Do you have people in your life who genuinely love you? Do you have a comfortable bed to sleep in at night? Are you able to eat when you feel hungry? Do all five of your senses still work? Do you know your name and where you live? Are you in possession of any good memories? If you can answer “yes” to at least one of these questions you have a reason to be grateful. Even the simple things, that we often take for granted, should be appreciated. God has blessed us in many ways and He rightly deserves our thanks.

Several Psalms encourage gratitude to God for what He has done by making the same exhortation, “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.” (Psalms 106:1, 107:1, and 136). May this directive to an ancient people in their day inspire our attitude and behavior in our day. God has shown us great mercy, goodness and grace. Let’s be grateful. Happy Thanksgiving!

Bishop Patrick L. Kelly is the pastor of Cathedral Church of God, 365 S. Dixie Hwy., Deerfield Beach, FL 33441. 954-427-0302.

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Posted on 19 November 2015 by L.Moore

What can we do while the world is being terrorized?

The terror is intended to destroy and divide. The terrorist are looking for free nations that are united and looking to take away all that we believe in. How do we survive? How do we win? Can we win? Can we succeed in being a free people with good values who love and care for the world around us?

As a Jew, I can tell you yes – yes, we have survived until now and we will continue to not only survive, but thrive!


Let me answer with a story:

Some time ago, Rabbi Yitzchak Dovid Grossman, the Rabbi of the city of Migdal Haemek in Israel was visited by Mutty Dotan, head of the Lower Galilee Regional Council. Dotan told him that he had just returned from Germany where he attended a ceremony in honor of the 25th anniversary of the twin cities pact between the regional council and the Hanover district in Germany. After the ceremony, German Bundestag (Parliament) member, Detlev Herzig, of the SPD party, approached him and related this story.

His father had died a few weeks before and, before his demise, he confessed to his son his part in the Holocaust. He explained that since there are many Holocaust deniers today, he wanted to share the truth with his son.

He told his son that he had been an officer in the German air force, the Luftwaffe, during World War II and handed him an envelope. Upon opening the envelope the astonished son found a Wehrmacht army officer’s certificate, wrapped in a strange wallet made of parchment.

His father explained that while destroying a synagogue with his Nazi comrades during the war, he encountered on the floor a scroll made of high quality parchment. The Nazi officer cut out a piece of the scroll to use as a wallet, in which he placed his celebrated officer’s certificate.

Later he discovered that the scroll of parchment was something very sacred to the Jews, it was their Torah scroll. He told his son to give over the evidence to the first Jew he would meet and ask him to deliver it to a holy Jew in Israel who would know how to use it properly.

Upon returning to Israel, Dotan decided that the one who fit the description best was Rabbi Yitzchak Dovid Grossman, founder and Dean of the school network Migdal Ohr, Chief Rabbi of Migdal Haemek, and recipient of the 2004 Israel Prize for Lifetime Achievement.

Rabbi Grossman took the wallet in his hand. There it was: Made of the parchment of a Sefer Torah, a Torah scroll, this Nazi officer fashioned a nice wallet for himself. Trembling and gripped with emotion, Rabbi Grossman observed that the Nazi had cut out a piece of the Torah from the book of Deuteronomy.

The Rabbi began to read the words inscribed in ink on the parchment of the Torah scroll. They were the terrifying words of the chapter of rebuke in Deuteronomy 28, in which the Torah warns of the terrible consequences if the Jews would abandon their covenant with G-d, if they would reject their Torah.

Then the Torah continues to say in Deuteronomy 29:9 and right there on that wallet: “You are all standing today before G-d.”

Rabbi Grossman remembered what the great Biblical commentator Rashi explains, that after hearing the horrifying words of rebuke, the Jews were terrified they would not survive. So Moses comforted them and said: “You are all standing today before G-d. Just as G-d cannot die, you too will never die.” These were the words inscribed on the wallet.

Imagine: Nazis come in to a synagogue, murder the Jews and desecrate the Torah scrolls — as was their routine. One of them has the chutzpah [audacity] to cut off a piece and use it for his personal wallet. At last, Hitler triumphed over the Jews and their G-d.

Six decades later that very wallet ends up in the hands of a Rabbi in Israel who has thousands of Jewish children studying from the very Torah they desecrated in his schools. This Rabbi now kisses the holy parchment, quotes the divine promise that we will never perish.

Through all the destruction in every generation G-d says clearly (Deuteronomy 29:9) “You are all standing today before G-d,” stand together and nothing can happen to you!

So I turn to each and every one of you and I am telling you: “Stand united, that’s how we will win this war!”

Rabbi Tzvi Dechter is the Director of Chabad of North Broward Beaches located at 4081 N. Federal Hwy., #100A, Pompano Beach, FL 33064. For all upcoming events please visit www.JewishLHP.com.

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CLERGY CORNER: Dear Police: Thank You (Part 2)

Posted on 12 November 2015 by L.Moore

The whine of the Rolls Royce engine and oscillating whooshing sound from the four-bladed Bell 407 police helicopter hovering above echoed throughout the apartment complex’s hallways. Red and blue strobe lights danced upon the once dark and silent walls before gunfire had shattered the stillness of the evening.

Over here,” called a first responder. “Look closely,” he said while pointing toward the lower abdomen of an adult male sprawled upon the ground being worked on by paramedics.

You see these two small punctures?” said the first responder. “That’s where he was shot.” I had to almost squint; I’d never seen a shooting victim, nor had any clue what real gunshot wounds looked like. But there they were: what appeared to be two stab wounds by a No. 2 pencil.

Wasting little time, the victim was prepped for transport. A polite and calm paramedic looked over at me and said, “Wanna ride in the back with us to the hospital?” I needed to remain with the first responder I was shadowing for the evening, but I couldn’t help but notice the medic’s collected demeanor. For him, two bullets robbing a man of his pulse was simply another day on the job. He and the crew couldn’t let the reality of the situation distract them from their mission: saving lives.

I never learned the fate of the shooting victim, but I did become well-educated on the many other tragedies law enforcement personnel encounter during my many nights riding with the police, specifically drunk driving.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “In 2013, 10,076 people died in drunk driving crashes,” and another “290,000 were injured” because of intoxicated drivers. One DUI Task Force sheriff’s deputy told me that, statistically speaking, 1 in 4 drivers after 10 p.m. in Palm Beach County are driving impaired.

I recall one night, while heading east on Forest Hill Boulevard, the deputy I was riding with noticed a van ahead crossing the lane markings. We kept our distance monitoring the driver’s behavior—all being recorded by the dash cam. With enough probable cause to make a legal stop —suspicion of driving under the influence — the deputy switched on the trademark red and blue strobes. A quick yelp of the siren helped the van’s driver recognize he was our target, which caused him to pull off the road and stop just prior to the I-95 overpass.

Cautiously approaching the driver’s side, the deputy quickly realized his suspicion was accurate. Accompanying the driver was an aging prostitute — her skin wrinkled and leathery-looking, undoubtedly from years of smoking. While the moment was heartbreaking, I remember the wise advice of the seasoned DUI Task Force deputy, “No one gets to make a choice that could rob someone else’s right to live.”

And that’s where my deep sense of gratitude resides —knowing that each day, police officers and deputies make the exact opposite decision that drunk drivers and other criminals make. Police initiate numerous choices that often put themselves in harm’s way so that no one is robbed of their right to live. Christ says in John 15:13, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friend”— the citizens, in their case. Without a doubt, those behind the badge embody the United States Coast Guard rescue swimmer motto: “So others may live.”

So, dear officer or deputy, thank you for putting on the uniform daily. For knowing you’ll be second-guessed, have your food sometimes [spit in], and be bullied by the talking heads on television and trolls on social media. For rushing into the situations everyone else is running from. For often being the face of humanity, sacrificially serving your community, while the poor choices of a few of your brothers and sisters allows for a complete vilification of your chosen profession. Thank you for choosing to go to a “normal day on the job,” which really means guys like me and my fellow citizens are able to rest peacefully knowing, because of you, we may live.

C.J. Wetzler is the NextGen pastor at First Baptist Church of Deerfield Beach. Before transitioning into full-time ministry, CJ was a commercial airline captain and high school leadership and science teacher. For questions or comments he can be reached at cj@deerfieldfirst.com.

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CLERGY CORNER: Nurture & Nature Do we have a choice?

Posted on 05 November 2015 by L.Moore

When we are born from a male and female union we are given life. Life includes things such as health and intelligence (physicality), which is part of our ‘nature’ – things beyond our control. As we grow up, the world around us nurtures us (spiritually); many things are directly affected by this including our knowledge and our emotions. Nature and nurture can affect our future. We will be given choices in everything we do, and the choices we make will or will not be inspired by our nurture or our nature. The outcome can be positive or negative, but, one thing all our choices will have in common is, no matter the person, their parents or their upbringing, we make the final choice. We didn’t choose our nature or nurture, but we do chose to use the nature and nurture either as an excuse or as a reason for the choices we make. We can choose to do the opposite of what our nature and nurture dealt us.

If you had every excuse in the world to be the worst type of person in the world because of your nature and nurture, what would you choose?

Here is what one person did.

Dr. Bernd Wollschlaeger has the ultimate skeleton-in-the-closet, and he’s not shy about sharing it.

He was born in 1958 and was raised Catholic in Germany. As a young boy, he admired his father, Major Arthur Wollschlaeger, who was a tank commander in World War II and awarded the Iron Cross by Adolf Hitler.

Dr. Wollschlaeger said, “My father was a hero, I had no doubt. The fact that he was a Nazi didn’t mean anything to me because I was a child.”

But as he got older, he had questions that his dad didn’t answer. He was determined to know the truth. So, as a teen, he took a trip to Israel.

What I learned about the Holocaust shocked me, not only from the fact of history I didn’t know, but also the contrast to my father’s stories of heroism. That was not a hero,” he said.

About his father, he said, “He admired Hitler during the war. The treatment of the Jews … he never used the term ‘murder,’ never used the term ‘extermination.’”

Dr. Wollschlaeger admits his attraction to the Jewish faith was driven by his discovery of the truth.

There’s no question that my initial step towards Judaism was motivated by guilt and shame as a young German. How could that happen? How could my people do that?” he said.

He turned his guilt into conviction, and, ultimately, action. Seven years after starting his spiritual search, he converted, became an Israeli citizen and joined the Israeli army.

I felt comfortable in a family of choice, the Jewish community, versus a family of origin, which rejected me,” he explained.

Over the years, his relationship with his father deteriorated.

He was bitterly disappointed that his son betrayed him, the son whom he wanted to raise to be a good German,” said Dr. Wollschlaeger.

He moved from Israel to South Florida more than 20 years ago, where he now practices medicine. He hopes the next generation never forgets. He has taken his daughter to the concentration camps, which he calls “the entrance to a man-made hell.”

Dr. Wollschlaeger said, “We, as human beings, have the capacity to do tremendous good and do horrific and horrible things.”

But, it is rare to have both so uniquely intertwined in one family’s history.

Dr. Bernd Wollschlaeger will be speaking Tuesday, Nov.10 at the Wyndham Deerfield Beach Resort. R.S.V.P. at Chabadoflighthousepoint@gmail.com or www.JewishLHP.com.

Rabbi Tzvi Dechter is the Director of Chabad of North Broward Beaches located at 4081 N. Federal Hwy., #100A, Pompano Beach, FL 33064. For all upcoming events please visit www.JewishLHP.com.

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CLERGY CORNER: How to use your words for good

Posted on 29 October 2015 by L.Moore

The words you speak every day carry more power than you realize. They have the potential to take your life – and the lives of those around you – in either a positive or a negative direction. To use your words for good, you must first begin focusing on certain categories of words while working to eliminate others from your vocabulary altogether.

Specifically, decide to create a habit of speaking words of praise and encouragement. At the same time, choose to steer clear of any kind of gossip or complaining. When you do, you will see a positive difference in your life and in the effect you have on other people. Here’s a quick look at each of these types of words to help you get started:

Praise – Words of praise shift your attention away from selfishness and toward God’s goodness. Try starting every day by praising God for who He is and for the blessings in your life. Let those words settle into your heart and become part of the wellspring you speak from for the rest of the day.

Encouragement – Everyone needs encouragement. As you begin speaking from a God-focused heart, encouraging words will come naturally. You will begin seeing other people as God sees them, which will make you want to use your words to help them grow in that direction. When you stop focusing on others’ shortcomings and, instead, become a source of encouragement, you are cooperating with God in building them into the people He wants them to be.

On the negative side of the equation, there are two major categories of words that can sabotage your life and your relationships. Speaking these words is like ingesting small, daily doses of poison:

Gossip – Gossip, in all forms, is destructive. Not only does it tear others down, it also deteriorates people’s trust in you. When you gossip, you are engaging in an activity that has no possible end result but harm. Others are hurt, and the noxious words seep into your soul, creating internal toxicity.

Complaints – Complaints become self-fulfilling prophecies. If you feed the small irritations in your life with words, they will grow into more substantial problems. The energy you spend focusing on them gives them heightened potential to derail your best life.

Nelson Searcy is the founding and lead pastor of The Journey Church in Boca Raton. Sunday services are held at 9:30 and 11 a.m. www.bocajourney.com.

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CLERGY CORNER: You reap what you sow

Posted on 22 October 2015 by L.Moore

The fall season is a time of cooler temperatures, brightly colored leaves, and anticipated fruit and vegetable harvests. Northern states tend to see and feel the season more than we do here in South Florida, where 80 to 90 degree temperatures still taunt us. The many harvest festivals, pumpkins, apples and store displays serve to remind us that it is here nonetheless.

Fall, also known as autumn, is so named because of what happens to leaves as the weather grows colder in most parts of the country – they eventually fall from the trees. The season was originally identified as harvest due to its status as the last opportunity to reap a crop for the year.

We live in a time when you can buy just about any fruit or vegetable year ‘round regardless of the season. Importing from various countries with different climates from ours translates into mangoes, watermelon, and coconuts in winter. Our tropical climate means we get to enjoy these things practically year ‘round. The more that is locally grown, the better for us and local farmers. The farmers can only sell what they grow, however. And they can only grow what they intentionally plant.

This principle extends beyond agriculture into our lives and experiences as well. You reap what you sow. Sowing happens when we invest, put in, or contribute to something. If you invest in learning, you will reap an education. If you put effort into your exercise regimen, you will reap better health. If you contribute to the productivity of your employer by possessing a good work ethic, you will reap a salary and perhaps a bonus or raise.

This idea of sowing and reaping affects our relationships as well. What we get out of our interactions with each other is directly related to what we put in.

In fact, Jesus’ command in Matthew 7:12, also known as the Golden Rule, directs us to sow with good intentions. “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” So, if I expect my neighbor to treat me fairly, I need to be fair with him. If I want patience and mercy from others because of my inabilities and frailties, then I must be patient and merciful with them when I am subject to theirs.

This is an inescapable fact of life and human experience. You reap what you sow. It is far easier for us to respond to people in kind. Try being friendly and gracious with your server at the restaurant on your next visit and see if you don’t get better service than when you were irritated and demanding. Galatians 6:7 makes it plain, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.” You cannot sow strife and expect to reap peace. You cannot sow hate and expect to reap love. You cannot sow discord and expect to reap unity.

What kind of harvest would you like this season? If you have sown good seeds of compassion, kindness, and patience with others, then you can look for an abundant return of the same in your life. If you have sown negative words, attitudes, and behavior then don’t be surprised when those same things return in multiplied measure. It’s never too late, however, to change the course of our lives by adjusting our outlook to realize that we can have some effect upon what happens to us. In this season, let us intentionally sow good seeds so that we may reap a good harvest.

Bishop Patrick L. Kelly is the pastor of Cathedral Church of God, 365 S. Dixie Hwy., Deerfield Beach, FL 33441. 954-427-0302.

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CLERGY CORNER: Does being human mean being different?

Posted on 15 October 2015 by L.Moore

We have different names, different colors, different shapes and different sizes. We eat different foods and enjoy different sports. We have different houses of prayer and we have different books of prayers.

Are we really that different? There seems to be a never-ending cycle of hate and war throughout the world based on these differences. There also seems to be an ever-growing divisiveness within our own communities. How do we change that? Are humans really just different, separate beings that will always clash? Does being human mean being different? What is it that divides us and what is it that can unite us?

I propose we go back to the beginning …

When G-D created the first human being, the Bible describes it like this: “And the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and He breathed into his nostrils the soul of life’, and man became a living soul.” [Genesis 2:7]

So what divides us is the physical body. We are different people with different histories. Let me explain what unites us with a story: The story is told of an opera singer who was known for his readings and recitations from the Classics. He always ended his performance with a dramatic recital of Psalm 23. Each night, without exception, as the actor began his recitation, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want…” The crowd would listen attentively and then rise with thunderous applause, in appreciation of the actor’s ability to bring the psalm to life.

One night, just before the singer was to offer his customary recital of Psalm 23, an old man from the audience spoke up. “Sir, would you mind, if tonight, I recite Psalm 23?” he asked.

The actor was surprised by this unusual request. However, he invited the old man to come onto the stage to recite the psalm, curious to see how the ability of this man weighed against his own talent.

Softly, the old man began to recite the words of the psalm. His voice was parched and weak, and his tune pretty lousy.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want … Though I walk in the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff-they will comfort me. Only goodness and kindness shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the House of the Lord for many long years.”

When he was finished, there was no applause. There was no standing ovation as on other nights. All that could be heard was the sound of weeping. The audience had been so moved by the man’s recitation that every eye was tearful.

Amazed by what he had experienced, the opera star queried, “I don’t understand. I have been performing Psalm 23 for years. I have a lifetime of experience and training — but I have never been able to move an audience as you have tonight. And frankly, you have a horrible voice and can barely carry a tune. Tell me, what is your secret?”

The old man humbly replied, “Well, sir, you know the psalm … but I know the Shepherd.”

My dear friends, get to know the Shepherd within each and every one of us!

What unites us is our Creator, our Shepherd, our G-d. Get to know the shepherd and you will get to know the song of life. When we sing the Psalm, it will bring unity — peace, love and tolerance!

We humans were created with a body and a soul. The soul was given in order to bring unity, not to divide us! So, if we see another human, we must realize his uniqueness, which is his soul, is a part of G-d, our G-d, and that’s exactly what unites us!

So, next time you want to hate or divide, just stop and think that what makes us human is not the body, but the soul!

[Malachi 2:10] Have we not all one father? Has not one God created us? Why should we betray, each one his brother, to profane the covenant of our forefathers?

Rabbi Tzvi Dechter is the Director of Chabad of North Broward Beaches located at 4081 N. Federal Hwy., #100A, Pompano Beach, FL 33064. For all upcoming events please visit www.JewishLHP.com.

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CLERGY CORNER: Dear police: Thank you (part one)

Posted on 08 October 2015 by L.Moore

On May 4, 1998, millions of Americans viewed part one of the final Seinfeld episode, aptly titled “The Finale.” Stuck in a small, unfamiliar Massachusetts town, Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer are witnesses to an armed carjacking. Showing little concern for the victim, Kramer hoists his large camcorder to film the event while the others poke fun at the driver, for both his physical appearance and ill-fated predicament. Their laughter fades when a police officer approaches the four and places them under arrest.

What? No, no … We didn’t do anything,” said Elaine.

That’s exactly right,” replied the police officer, charging them for violating the town’s newly passed Good Samaritan Law, requiring bystanders to take reasonable action to assist anyone in danger.

While behind bars, George said, “Why would we want to help somebody? That’s what nuns and Red Cross workers are for.”

We laugh at its absurdity: the idea that anyone would stand idly by while a fellow human was in distress, let alone film the event. Yet a few weeks ago, footage of a Southwest Airlines flight attendant “slurring his words” and “nodding off” during a safety demonstration was posted to LiveLeak. The story went viral, accusing the flight attendant of either falling asleep or being drunk.

While the digital world jumped to negative conclusions, a personal friend of the flight attendant reported that he was actually suffering from a medical condition, and was later hospitalized for a brain aneurysm.

What started out as a punchline to a ‘90s television show has become our 21st Century reality: film first, post later, feel good about our “likes.” Me. Me. Me. Surely this can’t be healthy?

Psychology Today reports that when we become “self-absorbed, it’s difficult for us to experience the world from other people’s perspectives. Other people become truly ‘other’ to us. And this makes it possible for us to inflict suffering on them,” or fail to help them when they are in need. Our cell phones are charged and ready for filming, yet, it’s our empathy, our ability to be human, which is depleted.

This is cause for concern as we consider the research of renowned psychologist Dr. Philip Zimbardo. In his TED Talk, Zimbardo asserts that the “slippery slope of evil — exercising power to intentionally harm people physically and psychologically” begins with the “dehumanization of others” via a “legal, political, economic or cultural background — a system” that “corrupts the individuals.”

Consider the recent national cases of police either being refused restaurant service or having derogatory remarks scribbled across their coffee cups. Let me be clear about what’s happening: Individuals are uniting against the police. There are those in our society — in every society — who do not understand the text of Romans 13:3, “For the authorities do not strike fear in people who are doing right, but in those who are doing wrong.” (Naturally, some have more to fear than others.) But, this is different. These individuals are uniting under the same pretense. A movement has been created, a system that is giving some people power and permission to dehumanize police, leading to the infliction of suffering against police officers, both emotional and physical. In short, evil.

Zimbardo later goes on to say that the antidote to evil is heroes: “Heroes are everyday people.” Police are everyday people. They are humans. Let us not lose our empathy, unjustly dehumanizing our peace officers. Let us recognize the true courage of those who put their life on the line during every shift, while so many of us idly stand to the side, camera phone in hand, waiting for our clip to go viral.

To all those who put on the uniform every day, thank you. Your service and sacrifice does not go unnoticed, and I believe substantially more citizens than those portrayed in the media agree that your lives matter. Not because you are a police officer, but because you are human, and to dehumanize a person is nothing short of evil.

C.J. Wetzler is the Next-Gen pastor at First Baptist Church of Deerfield Beach. Before transitioning into full-time ministry, CJ was a commercial airline captain and high school leadership and science teacher. For questions or comments, he can be reached at cj@deerfieldfirst.com.

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CLERGY CORNER: The Holiday of Sukkos; To live in a modern world and keep ancient customs

Posted on 30 September 2015 by L.Moore

To be productive today, you must have learned to use computers and phones. You must be so fluent in using them that you can do anything while still using it. I just read in a recent study that most moments are captured by a person through a phone camera. For example, if you were to go to a sports game and there is a high fly ball to center field – snap, snap, snap – or if you go to a park and there is baby taking her first steps – snap, snap, snap. Those moments are seen and captured forever.

The good thing about being so tech savvy is that we accomplish a lot more in less time. We can send things across the globe in a flash. We can do amazing research on anything and have instant answers to any question we have on any subject. All this has made us much more productive than we ever were. It has made anything possible. So many wonderful things have started because of technology. Relationships, friendships, partnerships, cures are just a few examples of some of the great things the modern world has brought us.

With all that said, there are some negative things as well. I won’t go through the list, but I will point out one which I think we can work on. And that is the lack of personal attention and focus which, before technology, we were forced to have. Say you wanted to tell something to your mom, you would go down the block to your mom’s house and tell her in person. Today, you would text five words. Say you wanted to tell your child “I love you.” In the past, you would have had to tell them in person while looking in their eyes. Today, you text them while you are at work ‘Iluvu.’

We have lost all personal communication and have forgotten how to enjoy each other. We have forgotten how to sit across from each other and be the social, loving and caring creatures that we are!

We need to fix this, but the question is how?

Sunday, Sept. 27, Jews across the world began the seven day Holiday of Sukkos [or Sukkot]. After Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, the Torah says we must dwell in a Sukkah. (A Sukkah is a hut. It has four walls and a roof made from tree branches). How does one fulfill the mitzvah of dwelling in the sukkah? One should eat, drink and live in the sukkah, both day and night, as one lives in one’s house on the other days of the year: for seven days, a person should make his home his temporary dwelling, and his sukkah his permanent dwelling.

In Sukkot, you shall dwell for seven days,” instructs the Torah, “…in order that your generations shall know that I made the children of Israel dwell in a sukkah when I took them out of the land of Egypt.” (Lev. 23:42-43).

According to Chabad.org, our sages, noting the Torah’s use of the verb “to dwell” in the above verses, define the mitzvah of sukkah as a commandment that, for the duration of the festival of Sukkot, the sukkah is to become our primary dwelling place. Everything ordinarily done in the home should be done in the sukkah.

So every autumn, just as the weather is turning inhospitable, we move outdoors. For a full week, we exchange our regular home for a home which leaves us at the mercy of the elements, demonstrating our trust in G-d’s providence and protection, as our ancestors did when “following Me in the wilderness, in an uncultivated land.” (Jeremiah 2:2).

Dwelling in the sukkah for seven days is a beautiful and inspiring experience. Perhaps this is the solution to our problem. Leave the modern world and enter into the ancient world. Surround yourself with family and friends … talk to them, spend time with them, learn with them, sing with them, eat with them, play with them, read with them. Experience G-d’s timeless solution to a modern problem. Happy Sukkos.

Rabbi Tzvi Dechter is the Director of Chabad of North Broward Beaches located at 4081 N. Federal Hwy., #100A, Pompano Beach, FL 33064. For all upcoming events please visit www.JewishLHP.com.

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CLERGY CORNER: Aliens and strangers

Posted on 24 September 2015 by L.Moore

The numbers are staggering, and the experience is unimaginable. The wave of refugees fleeing Syria and other parts of the Middle East is testing the hospitality of Europe and other Western nations. Thousands have been displaced from their native lands and way of life, only to face uncertainty, fear and hostility in some cases. Hungary, Serbia and Germany are being overwhelmed. The United States has promised to increase the number that it can take in. But the victims of war-torn Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan keep coming with no end in sight.

Immigration has been a major issue in this country for quite some time now. The current political candidates vying for the White House have been challenged, on both sides, to address illegal border crossings, and the economic and social impact illegal immigration appears to have on the American way of life. The current crisis in Europe has only added to the debates that have raged on both sides of the issue.

But beyond the politics and economic discussions, how much responsibility do we have to assist the alien and the stranger?

All of us possess the ability to sympathize and be compassionate about the difficulties that others face. Something is stirred within us at the sight of suffering, grief and devastation after a natural disaster or some other catastrophic event. We willingly give our money and volunteer our services to be of help. It’s the right thing to do and is a natural human response. Irrespective of cultural, ethnic or physical differences, we all understand pain and have the same impulses to assuage it. Only the callous and barbaric are unmoved at someone’s distress.

God has created us to commiserate and be tenderhearted towards each other. His instruction to the ancient Hebrews was to be mindful of the poor and strangers among them.

And you shall not glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather every grape of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger.” [Leviticus 19:10].

In fact, aliens among the Hebrews were to be treated equally and without discrimination.

The stranger who dwells among you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God” [Leviticus 19:34].

In the New Testament, Jesus indicates that our treatment of those in adversity is indicative of our treatment of Him.

For I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me, I was in prison and you came to Me…Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.” [Matthew 25:35-36, 40].

This is why the faith community is always on the front lines of humanitarian aid and assistance. We extend God’s love to those who are in need because it is required of us, because God has shown us mercy, and because we owe it to our fellowman.

We may not have all the answers to the refugee crisis in Europe, or for the immigration issue here at home. We do acknowledge our responsibility to help the alien and the stranger nonetheless. Let’s be grateful for the churches, ministries, organizations and social service agencies that give aid to those facing crisis. Let us be inspired to help in the ways that we can by donating goods, money or services to those agencies. And let’s pray for peace at home and around the world.

Bishop Patrick L. Kelly is the pastor of Cathedral Church of God, 365 S. Dixie Hwy., Deerfield Beach, FL 33441. 954-427-0302.

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