| Clergy Corner

The real Christmas story

Posted on 26 December 2019 by LeslieM

Every year we are inundated with numerous tales related to the Christmas season. Santa Claus, Frosty the snowman, Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, the Grinch that stole Christmas and a host of other characters are an inevitable part of our holiday preparations. Their stories are told over and over through song, storybook and television episodes from late November to the end of December. They are an inevitable part of decorations and holiday displays in stores, shopping malls, and both inside and outside of our homes. The appeal of these characters is not confined to young children as many holiday gatherings may feature adults dressed in costumes representing the Grinch, Santa or one of his elves. But there is much more to Christmas than what these characters and their stories represent.

Christmas is based upon the Biblical account of Jesus, a real person who was born in Bethlehem over 2000 years ago. He was believed to be the Savior of mankind since many of the Old Testament prophecies concerning the Redeemer were fulfilled in his life. One of His followers, John, recorded many of the miracles He performed and the teachings that He gave. In John 3:16, Jesus says this about the purpose of His coming: For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. His statement gives insight into the significance of celebrating Christmas.

God loves the world:

Genesis reveals how God created the world with power and precision. He declared His satisfaction with what came into being through His spoken command. He involved His hands and His breath in the creation of man and positioned Adam and Eve in dominion over the earth. Their disobedience to His restriction on one tree in the Garden of Eden introduced sin in the earth and broke the fellowship they enjoyed with God. He could have destroyed them and started over, but He showed mercy and purposed to reconcile with man in due time. Despite continued rebellion against His way, He loved the world enough to wait until the appointed time of redemption.

The world needs God’s love:

At every juncture in human history there has been evidence of the depths of mankind’s sin and propensity towards evil. War, violence, slavery, deceit, racism, robbery and murder are just some of the fruit of wickedness that pervade the human experience. Yet, the declaration of the Bible is that God loved the world. It is difficult to comprehend why and how He could love the world with its evils and gross wickedness that seem to outweigh the good. But we are part of that world, and the truth is that He loves us despite our own faults, failings and sin.

Jesus connects us to God’s love:

Though many in His day did not believe Him, and some were even offended, Jesus claimed to be the Son of God. The full revelation of the Bible teaches that God Himself condescended to become like us in order to redeem us. Through Jesus, the full measure of God’s love is revealed. In His birth, Jesus identifies with us as humans. Through His life, he shows us God’s way and models perfect obedience. Through His death, our sins are forgiven. Through His resurrection, we are given new life and victory. All of this is an expression of the undeniable and unequaled love of God.

Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus, God incarnate, in humble and unlikely circumstances. It is a reminder of the magnitude of God’s love for His creation and the power of His redemptive plan. It provides an opportunity for believers to worship the King who conquered sin’s power over men’s lives and provided a way of reconciliation with God. It may sound like the stuff of fairy tales and imagination, but it’s the real account of how only God can save and satisfy the soul. That’s the real Christmas story.

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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Listen to Linus

Posted on 19 December 2019 by LeslieM

As a little boy growing up, and still to this day as a husband and father of four, of all the television specials that have aired during the Christmas season, A Charlie Brown Christmas is my favorite. When I was a boy, my mom and I would search the TV Guide (younger readers may be surprised to learn that one actually had to consult a magazine or newspaper to see what would be on TV) to see when the Christmas special would air so we would not miss it. Today, we just pop in the DVD and watch it anytime we want . . . frequently during the Christmas season.

Even when this program first aired in 1965, our culture was consumed by materialism, even during the Christmas season, causing Charlie Brown to be deeply concerned that the Christmas season had been separated from the Christmas “reason.” From his sister Sally’s letter to Santa (requesting “$10s and $20s” if her Christmas wish list was too complicated), to Snoopy entering his garishly decorated dog house in a Christmas decorating contest, commercialism was edging the Christ out of Christmas. Charlie Brown’s disillusionment hit rock bottom when Lucy and the cast of the Christmas play sent Charlie Brown out to get “the biggest and shiniest aluminum Christmas tree you can get” as the centerpiece for their presentation.

The segment of the show that always caught my attention — and this was decades before I became a Christian — was when Linus responded to Charlie Brown’s despairing question: “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?” Linus’ words were taken directly from the King James Version of sacred Scripture:

And there were in the same country, shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

(Luke 2:8-14 KJV)

And with that being said, Linus picked up his blanket and shuffled off the stage, stopping by his friend to say, “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.” Linus said it all! That is what Christmas is all about: the Christ Child, the only true reason for the season, the greatest gift the world has ever been given. And this precious gift is available to all those who will but place their trust in Jesus Christ alone for salvation.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

Early on in my Christian walk, I was instructed to personalize the Scriptures. Here is how you apply this instruction to John 3:16. When you come to the word “world,” insert your name: For God so loved . . . you! Think about it this way. God so loved you that He sent His one and only Son, Jesus Christ, into this world to die for your sins so that He could have an intimate, personal and loving relationship with you for all eternity. That’s right, with you!

Jesus was like no other child ever born into this world. He was supernaturally conceived in the womb of the Virgin Mary, as Isaiah 7:14 promised: The Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. This would be “the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes” that Linus spoke of — a babe that was God clothed in human flesh.

Jesus, that little baby in the manger, was born to die. That manger, which is so much a symbol of Christmas, always stood in the shadow of the cross, where God’s justice would be fully satisfied by God’s only Son.

Throughout the month of December, I pray that you and yours will listen to Linus and have a very merry, Christ-centered, hope-filled Christmas season. Perhaps you will take some time to share this glorious gift of hope with someone who does not yet know the real reason for this Christmas season. You will not be sharing a cleverly invented story, like the ones created by Dickens or Dr. Seuss, as charming as they are; you will be declaring the irrefutable truth of the good news of the birth of Christ, the one that Linus initially shared with an estimated 15 million families on that night in 1965, and to hundreds of millions more in all the years since.

That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. That’s what Christmas is all about: that God so loved you.

From the Boland family to yours: We wish you a very merry, Christ-filled Christmas!

Tommy Boland is the pastor for Cross Community Church located at 841 SE 2 Ct. in Deerfield Beach. For more information, call 954-427-3045 or visit www.thecrosscc.org.

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The gift of forgiveness

Posted on 12 December 2019 by LeslieM

Christmas is in the air here in South Florida. It is true that we do not have snow covered roofs, freezing temperatures, or a toboggan on every child’s head. [FYI: A toboggan is both a hat and a sled!]In South Florida, we know it is Christmas time in other ways. The traffic increases as the snowbirds arrive, parking spaces are difficult to find at the malls, the temperatures have fallen into the 70s, the humidity has decreased, and people are busy wrapping Christmas lights around their palm trees. The chaos will continue to increase as we draw closer to Dec. 25 and people search for those last minute gifts. Every year, in the midst of the chaos, I stop to wonder how many take the time to reflect on a quiet night in Bethlehem… you know… that first Christmas night.
My wife and I just returned from our third trip to Israel. Each time, we have had the privilege of standing in the Shepherd’s Field, which is small and very quiet. Standing in that field at night, you see nothing but the dark, star-filled sky… oh, and the lights of Bethlehem in the distance. I cannot even imagine what it would have been like to see and hear the angels announcing the birth of Jesus! I always laugh when I read Luke 2:10, and think of the angel saying, “Do not be afraid…” Yeah, right! Who would not be afraid when an angel appears in the darkness! The good news the angel pronounced was the birth of our Savior!
On that first Christmas night in Bethlehem, we see the greatest Giver was God… the greatest Gift was His Son… and the greatest example was God’s act of forgiveness. Jesus did not come to pay the penalty for His sins, but rather to pay for ours. God gave His Son so that our sin could be forgiven and so that we could be reconciled to Him. Jesus did not do anything wrong, but He willingly laid down His life to pay our sin debt and purchase a place in heaven for us. That is an amazing act of love and forgiveness, which sets an example for us to follow.
Sadly, churchgoers are often the most unforgiving of people. I have worked in secular environments where people cuss at each other, lose their temper and say some rotten things; but those same people let it roll off their backs and the next day they have reconciled and moved forward. I do not often see that same reconciliation among those who claim to be “Christians.” Let me clarify … I do see the cussing, gossip, backbiting and hateful comments; but, rarely have I seen the ability among Christians to forgive, overlook, move forward, reconcile and restore relationships.
Christmas is a reminder that God forgives our faults and failures. Those who claim to be Christ-followers should have that same heart. “Peace on Earth and goodwill toward men” should start in the church. John 3:16 reminds us of God’s position, “For God so loved the world (those who had turned their backs on Him) that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Eternal life through Jesus Christ is God’s gift to all humanity and it reveals His heart of love … His example of forgiveness!
We, too, have the opportunity to claim or share the gift of forgiveness this Christmas. If you have never confessed your sinful condition before God and personally received His gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ, this Christmas season is a great time to do so. If you are holding a grudge against someone, this is a great time to extend forgiveness and initiate the steps toward reconciliation. Being right with God and right with others could make this the greatest Christmas that you have ever experienced! I close by encouraging all Christ-followers to promote peace on Earth and goodwill toward all men by following God’s example of forgiveness.
Dr. Gary A. Colboch is Senior Pastor at Grace Church located at 501 NE 48 St. in Pompano Beach. For more information, call 954-421-0190 or pastor@gbcfl.org.

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The Wave Function Collapse

Posted on 05 December 2019 by LeslieM

Fascinatingly, a parallel concept exists in science, known as the wave function collapse. 
Contrary to common sense, quantum mechanics has shown that matter and atoms can exist in several states at one and the same time. For example, we now know that sub atomic particles move clockwise and counter clockwise simultaneously. Yes strange it is, but it is today the prevailing notion in modern physics.
But here is the catch: When a person observes the atoms, they collapse all the states and the atom settles into one state of being.  That is why when we observe an object we only see it in one state, because our observation of it defines its reality.
This is one of the most exciting, perplexing, and extraordinary ideas in modern physics. As it turns out, the Rogatchover Gaon, who passed away in 1936, sees the origin of the idea in the Talmud.
The Tree
We have another illustration of this in the Talmud. This case concerns a tree on a boundary line where two property owners claim ownership. The roots of the tree are exactly on the boundary line. Who owns the tree? Shmuel says, split it in half between the neighbors. Rav disagrees. He says that would be unfair. As in his mind, the roots of the tree on the border is in a limbo-state and is not owned by anyone of them. So what do you do? He says this: The direction that the branches of the tree lean is dispositive of who it belongs to. If some branches lean toward one neighbor, he owns them. The branches leaning in the other direction belong to the person living in that direction. Wherever the limbo state leans, there it will be placed. 

Jonah’s Strategy
So Jonah is living in this limbo city, not fully in Israel not fully out. G-d shows up one day giving him this mission that he does not want. He is afraid that the gentiles will listen, and it will cast the Jewish nation in a terrible light. What to do? 
Jonah knew he could not run from G-d. But he also realized that, being that Tzidon is a city in limbo as far as Jewish law is concerned, if he decides to run to outside of Israel, he collapses the limbo state and the city becomes a non-Israel city for him. So powerful is man’s choice in Judaism that it can actually determine the statutes of a city in limbo. So too, Jonah collapsed the limbo state of Tzidon by deciding to leave Israel, and hence the city of Sidon has not become a route taking him outside of Israel.
That is why the opening of Jonah states: “And Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from before the Lord.” It does not say that he fled. It says that he arose to flee. What mattered here was his intention. He decided to leave from Sidon to Africa (Tarshish). As soon as his intention turned towards outside Israel, the city became non-Israel, and as a result, he was not considered a prophet since he was effectively not in Israel when he heard the voice. He was not a prophet once the limbo city was collapsed in favor of outside Israel!
What then did G-d do? G-d sent a storm and whale to fetch Jonah back. Once the fish spit him out in the waters of the land of Israel, it turned out that Jonah’s original destination when he boarded the ship in Jaffe was ISRAEL. Sidon, it turned out, was not a starting point to leave Israel, rather it was a route taking him ultimately back to Israel. Thus, retroactively Sidon became Israel, and he had the obligation to carry out the mission and message to the people of Ninveh, which he did effectively. 

The Message
of repentance
The Baal Shem Tov says: You are where your thoughts are. You are where your desire is. Do not underestimate the meaning of these words. If I am in a terrible, or not such terrible, lowly state, but I want to get out of it, then I am not in a lowly state any longer, even though I am technically still there.
It is not about where you are, but where you want to be. I may be suffering from addiction; from anger; insecurity; dejection; fear; or so many other difficult emotions. Granted. But at the end of the day what counts is where I want to be. If I want to be elsewhere, then I am elsewhere.
We often find ourselves on “borders.” We can go either here or there. Really every moment of our life we are standing on the border between truth and falsehood, holiness and profanity, good and evil, functionality or dysfunction, happiness or depression, connected to G-d, or disconnected, shallow or deep, real or fake. We get frustrated because we can’t define our state of being. We wish for more clarity.
Comes the story of Jonah and states that it all depends on your desire and intention. If your intention is truth, that is where you are.    
As we prepare for Yom Kippur we get in touch with a basic truth. G-d does not care so much about your spiritual bank account, how much you’ve saved up in your 401k. He simply cares about where you are intent on going. Are you moving closer or moving farther. Everything else is a weather report. 
The Rebbe Reb Yosef Yitzchak, as a child, was once standing in his class room, gazing outside. His beloved teacher, Rashbatz, told him a few words that stayed with him:
“It is far better to be on the outside looking wistfully in, then on the inside looking wistfully out. “
Rabbi Tzvi Dechter is the director of Chabad of North Broward Beaches, located in the Venetian Isle Shopping Center at 2025 E. Sample Rd. in Lighthouse Point. For all upcoming events, please visit www.JewishLHP.com.

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10 reasons for gratitude

Posted on 27 November 2019 by LeslieM

It’s that time of year again when we pause to consider and be grateful for the things we love and hold dear. I believe it’s an exercise that we should engage more frequently than once a year. Every day brings experiences that we ought to be thankful for. Unfortunately, some wait to be shocked into an appreciation for the important things in life by the news of some tragedy elsewhere, or a near-death experience.
Thanksgiving Day provides an opportunity to consider what really matters in life.
In the “Peanuts” Thanksgiving episode that’s been aired every year since 1973, Marcie says to Charlie Brown, “Thanksgiving is more than eating, Chuck. We should just be thankful for being together.”
God’s goodness towards us should always be recognized. In Psalm 136, the ancient Hebrews sang a song that celebrated the mercies of God upon their nation. Verse 1 exclaims, Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. Then there is a recounting of specific instances of God’s power, protection and provision for His people, for which they affirm, His mercy endures forever. To that end, here is my list of 10 reasons to be grateful to God.
1) I’m grateful for a loving family: a spouse, children, parents and extended family members who provide the love, support and belonging that we need.
2) I’m grateful for good friends: acquaintances, co-workers, neighbors and associates who help our social development and keep us connected to the world around us.
3) I’m grateful for relatively good health: a proper diet, regular exercise and visits to the doctor help keep us one step ahead of sickness.
4) I’m grateful for traveling mercies: to be able to drive or fly to other cities, states and countries and return without incident or accident is a blessing.
5) I’m grateful for a job: to be employed, have a career or own a business is necessary to our existence. It may sometimes feel like a grind, but the payoff and benefit is often worth the effort.
6) I’m grateful for a home: whether owned or rented, there’s nothing like your own space to relax, unwind and retreat from the outside world.
7) I’m grateful for a decent education: To be able to read, write, comprehend basic math and communicate are skills that should not be taken for granted. Kudos to the schools and teachers that prepared us for life.
8) I’m grateful for America: Although our country is far from perfect and there may be much to complain about, we enjoy a far better existence and experience than many in other countries of the world. We also possess the ability to make changes through the ballot box and the political process rather than be strong-armed by dictatorial leadership.
9) I’m grateful for the freedom we enjoy in this country: Our rights as defined in the constitution guarantee certain protections that allow us to live in peace. Although we may disagree on certain things, we can do so agreeably.
10) I’m grateful for the knowledge of God: Awareness of God is important to the total experience of our humanity. We are more than flesh and blood. We are spiritual beings with a connection to the immaterial world. As we come to know God and respond to Him, life takes on a richer, deeper and fuller meaning.
The ancient Hebrews learned to trust, worship and serve God through their experiences of life. He was central to their existence, and they rightfully acknowledged His blessings. Oh, give thanks to the God of heaven! For His mercy endures forever (Psalm 136:26). We have the same opportunity to discover God’s work in our own lives and benefit from a relationship with Him. If you look closely, you’ll see His fingerprints everywhere. In this season, take the time to create your own list of reasons to give thanks for God’s blessings in your life. 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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Thankful for a hope that will not disappoint

Posted on 21 November 2019 by LeslieM

And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance, proven character, and hope; and this hope does not disappoint us, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 5:3-5)

This being the Thanksgiving season, I would like to help prepare our hearts with a message rooted in a hope that will not disappoint us . . . not ever!

Because we live in a fallen, broken world, as fallen and broken people, there is nothing we have ever been involved in that did not, at some time or another, deal us some kind of disappointment. Whether it was a job we hoped to get, a relationship we deeply desired or something we longed for and maybe even saved to purchase, that hope eventually failed to deliver on the happiness it seemed to promise us. But when we think through this sad reality, we realize that disappointment was the only thing it could deliver.

Take just a cursory glance at the evening news, and virtually any hope we are hanging onto seems to be dashed against the rocks by the unending waves of challenge that keep washing over our world. Virtually every story reinforces the notions that crime really does pay, honesty is not the best policy, and, as a 1980s song lamented, “The rats keep winning the rat race.” And, when all that dust settles, if we are still a bit hopeful, we find enough disappointment within ourselves to last two lifetimes. Speaking personally for a moment, I can testify that all too often, even when I am right about something, I deliver the message in the wrong way, feelings are hurt, and the hope that people placed in me is doused by disillusionment.

So what is the way forward when life seems to be continually marked by one step forward and two steps back? We must reevaluate where we have placed our hope. When we place our hope in anything of this world, we will inevitably be disappointed. And yet, even in the hope that disappoints us, we still have reason to be thankful, because God is working in us through the grace of disappointment. You see, if the things of this life actually could provide a hope that did not disappoint, we would grow into only a fraction of the person God is calling us to be, and we would become cold and distant in our relationship with Him.

The key that unlocks the door leading to a hope that does not disappoint is not to place our hope in something, but in Someone . . . and His name is Jesus Christ. At this level of living, we have a hope that simply cannot disappoint, because it is rooted in the One who cannot and will not disappoint us in any way.

As you ready yourself for Thanksgiving, would this not be a good time to prayerfully consider just how thankful you truly are for this hope that cannot and will not disappoint? Remember, “the certainty of this hope that promises the blessings of God comes through the presence of the promised Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:8). And if this message finds you in a season of storm winds and challenges, remember the ultimate hope: the return of Christ, who will wipe every tear from our eyes and who promises us an eternity with no more pain, no more sorrow, and no more death. Oh, what a glorious hope we have, a hope that cannot disappoint, because our hope is in Jesus!

Have a hope-filled Thanksgiving.

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. Never forget that . . . Amen!

Tommy Boland is the pastor for Cross Community Church located at 841 SE 2 Ct. in Deerfield Beach. For more information, call 954-427-3045 or visit www.thecrosscc.org.

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Remembering the first Thanksgiving

Posted on 14 November 2019 by LeslieM

In this day, in which efforts are being made to rewrite history, the real meaning of Thanksgiving is fading quickly. For many, Thanksgiving correlates with nothing more than a day off work, downing a turkey and watching football. For that reason, I want to start with a brief history of Thanksgiving.

In September 1620, the Mayflower left England, carrying 102 passengers seeking a new home where the Pilgrims could freely practice their faith and find opportunities for prosperity. The difficult journey eventually took them to Plymouth, where winter and disease were so brutal that only half of the original passengers and crew survived.

The Native Americans taught the Pilgrims how to cultivate corn, to extract sap, and to fish. In November 1621, the Pilgrims organized a feast to celebrate their successful harvest and invited their Indian friends to enjoy a meal of celebration with them. This feast is remembered as the “First Thanksgiving.” On Oct. 3, 1863, during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of Thanksgiving to be celebrated each November.

Too many want to act like this event never happened, but a little known national monument, located in Plymouth, Massachusetts, pays a great tribute to our Forefathers, those first English settlers who landed at Plymouth. The 81 ft. tall solid-granite monument is located in state park at 72 Allerton St. in Plymouth, MA. The cornerstone was laid in 1859 and the monument was completed in 1889. The monument was originally planned to be approx. 150 ft. tall, but was reduced during the Civil War due to lack of funding.

The placard on the northeast side of the monument reads, “National Monument to the Forefathers. Erected by a grateful people in remembrance of their labors, sacrifices and sufferings for the cause of civil and religious liberty.

The sculptures on the monument represent the virtues that the Pilgrims brought with them when they arrived in 1620. The largest and tallest sculpture is Faith. Other figures include Morality represented by a woman holding a tablet symbolic of the Ten Commandments which reads, “I am the Lord thy God…” Seen in Morality’s throne are references to Prophecy and Evangelism.

On the west side are figures representing Law, Justice and Mercy. On the south side is Education flanked by Wisdom and Youth. On the east side is Liberty flanked by Peace. Along with these figures, the monument also includes smaller sculptures telling the story of the Pilgrims’ leaving England, landing at Plymouth and interacting with Native Americans. The Pilgrims are also honored with a monument in Provincetown, MA that was completed in 1910.

There is no question regarding the Christian faith that the Pilgrims brought with them. Their quest was to find a place where they could worship God freely. In a day when people are rewriting history, let us pause to remember the Pilgrims who risked their lives to pursue religious freedom. Let’s pause to remember their sacrifices, which laid the groundwork for the freedoms we enjoy today.

Sure, eat the turkey, enjoy the family and watch some football this Thanksgiving; but also take time to count your blessings and to thank God for faith, family, friends and freedom!

Dr. Gary A. Colboch is Senior Pastor at Grace Church located at 501 NE 48 St. in Pompano Beach. For more information, call 954-421-0190 or pastor@gbcfl.org.

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The most successful fundraiser

Posted on 07 November 2019 by LeslieM

Do you know what was the most successful fundraising event in the history of the American Jewish community, and arguably the greatest fundraising campaign ever in Jewish History? I discovered the answer recently when I saw a strange picture taken in Chicago, in 1921. What’s going on in this photo? A bunch of Jews sitting around candlelit tables, doing what?

Well, Gil Weissblei, a Jewish archivist, came across this photo in the collections of the U.S. National Library, but could not figure out what it was. The only information was the name of the photographer and the city, “Kaufman & Fabry Co., Chicago,” visible in the photograph’s lower right corner and, underneath it, a six digit number separated by a hyphen: 21-6591, which means 1921 (the other four digits are the running number of the negatives for that year).

The puzzle was solved after Gil came across a book The Jews of Chicago: From Shtetl to Suburb. He read a story there and immediately knew this was the picture of that story. Jacob Loeb, one of the Chicago community’s Jewish leaders, was perturbed by the horrific state of Jews in Eastern Europe following World War I and the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia. Persecution, pogroms and wars were the fate of our brothers and sisters there. Jacob dreamt of holding an extraordinary fundraiser that would collect millions of dollars, in 1921, for the Jews in Eastern Europe.

How do you do it? How do you inspire the crowd to give?

He understood what was needed were not words or slogans, but a physical experience.

So Loeb organized a gala dinner to which the crème de la crème of Illinois Jewish society, including Chicago’s greatest industrialists and businessmen, were invited. On the evening of Dec. 7, 1921, 800 men dressed in their Sunday best gathered at the luxurious Drake Hotel in Chicago for what they were certain would be an exclusive event at the center of which would be a lavish banquet.

The guests were in for a surprise.

As the last of them entered the hotel ballroom, the doors were locked. Loeb stepped up to the podium and began speaking: “For so many to dine in this place would mean an expenditure of $3500 (Today, it would be $50,000), which would be unwarrantable extravagance and, in the face of starving Europe, a wasteful crime. Thirty-five hundred dollars will help to feed the hungry, clothe the naked and heal the sick. What right have we to spend on ourselves funds which we want to collect for them? So that this money might be saved for them, you are brought here to this foodless banquet.”

The astonished guests suddenly noticed that the tables, with the exception of the long slender candles, were indeed bare. Not a single fruit, vegetable, dip or piece of bread was available. The poor Jews were left starving at a dinner without even a glass of water.

Their bewilderment was captured by the flash of Kaufman and Fabry’s camera, and recorded in the photograph commemorating this unique event, which you see here.

The result? Checkbooks were opened for the Relief of Jewish War Sufferers Fund like never before. The money was flowing. That night, the wealthy businessman Julius Rosenwald exceeded all others with a donation of $1 million (Today, it would be probably $15 million).

This was an unprecedented sum, even for a philanthropist like Rosenwald, who later went on to establish the renowned Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. (Word of the huge donation reached President Woodrow Wilson, who sent a telegram to Rosenwald thanking him.)

The fact remains: The success of the fundraiser was never duplicated. Why? Because the dinner was not about words, slogans, speeches and videos. It was about experience. They all came in hungry, and they remained hungry for the night! Their stomachs spoke more than mouths can. It allowed them to experience, if only a sliver, of the suffering of their brethren who were starving back in Europe. It made the experience real, tangible, concrete. They did not speak of starvation; they experienced it with their body.

Rabbi Tzvi Dechter is the director of Chabad of North Broward Beaches, located in the Venetian Isle Shopping Center at 2025 E. Sample Rd. in Lighthouse Point. For all upcoming events, please visit www.JewishLHP.com.

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The Magic of Stone Soup

Posted on 31 October 2019 by LeslieM

This is the time of year when many churches and other non-profits search for ideas to motivate their members to supply the resources they need to reach out and bring sustenance and comfort to the people they serve. My own search for ideas often leads to folk tales, such as one with the title Stone Soup. I’m sure you are wondering what a story with such a strange title can have to do with fund-raising – stick with me a few moments and I’ll try to make some sense of it for you.
The story concerns a weary traveler who sought food and comfort at a tiny village. He stopped at each of the homes along the main street, “Can you spare some food and lodging for a tired and hungry traveler?” Each of the villagers replied, “We are sorry, but we had a meager harvest and have barely enough food and blankets for our families. We don’t know how we will make it through the winter.” The traveler was discouraged and sat down under a tree in the village square. He felt his own hunger but also felt for the needs of the villagers.
Suddenly the traveler remembered the beautiful stone he had picked up along the way and put into his pocket. He gathered the villagers around him, “My friends, what you see in my hand is a beautiful stone that will feed you now and throughout the winter; with this stone you can make stone soup.” The villagers were unconvinced but banded together and brought a huge iron kettle to the traveler. They were astonished when he filled it with water and placed it over a roaring fire and gently immersed the stone into the boiling water.
The traveler sipped the brew, “Stone soup is better with a little bit of salt and pepper.” Several children ran and got salt and pepper. The traveler sipped again, “This stone makes a wonderful soup, but it would taste better if we had a few carrots.” One of the villagers spoke up, “I have some carrots I’m willing to share,” and his daughter ran and got them. “What about the cabbages I have in my pantry,” a woman asked, “would they help?” The traveler replied, “Yes, they would indeed!” The woman went home and quickly returned with the cabbages. The villagers spoke among themselves; they went to their homes and brought back potatoes, onions, barley, beef, and soon a wonderful aroma of stone soup hung over the village square.
The villagers set out tables in the square and brought large soup bowls, crusty bread and apple cider, enough for everyone. After they eat their fill, their talents for singing, dancing, and fiddle-playing was on display long into the evening. On the morrow, they gathered to bid good-bye to the traveler. A small child embraced him and whispered. “Don’t forget your magic stone.” The traveler replied, “I am leaving the stone with you. Why? because it not only fed you yesterday, and will feed you tomorrow, but it has shown you what is possible when you work together and share what you have.” With that he rode off and the villagers agreed the stone had accomplished everything the traveler had promised.
So . . what is the connection between making stone soup and having a successful stewardship drive? The answer is obvious. Both events only succeed when the participants are willing to pitch-in with their “treasure, time, and talents.” When that happens, the magic of the stone provides nourishment and comfort for all.
Rev. M. Tracy Smith, SSA, Rector is from the Saint Peter’s Anglican Church, 1416 SE 2 Terr., Deerfield Beach, FL 33441. For more information, call 954-695-0336. Wednesday: Holy Communion at 10 a.m., Sunday: Holy Communion at 10 a.m.

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Thank you, Pastor!

Posted on 24 October 2019 by LeslieM

In a recent session of the 116th Congress, Congressman Ted Deutch offered a public commendation in honor of the ministers, pastors and priests in his district. It was done in acknowledgement of Clergy Appreciation Day (also known as National Pastor Day) which annually falls on the second Sunday of each October. October is also nationally recognized as Clergy Appreciation Month, and congregations hold special services, events or activities to honor their ministers for the spiritual guidance and leadership that they give. Many of them provide valuable influence and service to the larger communities in which they minister as well. We are blessed to live in a nation that recognizes the significance of the faith community to the overall well-being of society. The work and influence of ministers, in general, should not be discounted because of the negative reports of some that occasionally make news headlines.

The Bible provides numerous descriptions of the qualifications and work of ministers. One of my favorites is Jeremiah 3:15,And I will give you pastors according to My heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.” In Jeremiah’s day, God was unhappy with His people’s rejection of the covenant relationship He had established with them, in favor of worship and allegiances with foreign deities. Much of their unfaithfulness was caused by leaders who led the people astray (see 2:8). After calling them to account, God promised to provide shepherds (leaders and pastors) who would give proper guidance to the people. In a recent pastor’s installation service, I shared three considerations from God’s description of pastors in Jeremiah 3:15. True pastors will fit and model this description.

Pastors are assigned by God. The clear revelation of Scripture is that pastors are called and assigned by God to proclaim His word, minister to His people, and lead His church. As Moses and Joshua were called by God to lead Israel in the Old Testament, and the disciples and Paul were chosen by Jesus in the New Testament, so, too, God still calls men and women to serve today. No one can call and confirm himself to any function or ministry of the pastorate. Evidence of God’s call must be recognized by others and confirmed by the church. God says, “I will give you.” Though the function of pastors may appear to be a job, and some may make it a career, the truth is that the pastor is fulfilling a divinely ordained assignment. He functions in response to an undeniable calling upon his life. He goes where he goes and does what he does because he is assigned by God.

Pastors have God’s heart. They serve according to God’s will and function in a manner to His liking. Since they are called by God, they are duty bound to serve according to His word and His way. Though they may serve the people, they serve in the interests of God. They must, therefore, be God-pleasers not men-pleasers. Pastors after the people’s heart will tickle their ears but pastor’s after God’s heart will touch their souls. Pastors after the people’s heart will give them what they want, but pastors after God’s heart will give them what they need. Pastors after the people’s heart will change their messages to fit the times, but pastors after God’s heart will proclaim the timeless truths of an unchanging God. Pastors will one day give account to God for their service. They must, therefore, faithfully proclaim God’s word, promote God’s interests and represent God’s heart.

Pastors feed God’s people. Like a shepherd who provides green pastures for the nourishment of his flock, so the pastor feeds God’s people with the milk, bread and meat of God’s word – the Scriptures. His sensitivity to the heart of God will enable him to communicate spiritual truth to the human condition. Faithfully preaching and teaching God’s word will turn converts into disciples and believers into mature saints. Jeremiah 3:15 notes that pastors will feed God’s people with knowledge and understanding. This enables them to become like the sons of Issachar (1 Chron. 12:32) who understood the times and knew what to do. Don’t underestimate the value of your pastor to your life. Appreciate his spiritual guidance. Take time to give honor and thanks for his service.

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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