This Shabbat service was organized by Rabbi Adam Chalom, rabbi of Kol Hadash Humanistic Congregation in Deerfield, IL and the dean of the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism (IISHJ).
As Rabbi Chalom teaches us, Shalom can mean many things. Here are 2 excerpts from the Shabbat Shalom service. Click here to download a PDF copy of the full service.
Shalom – Peace
“Shalom” is also Hebrew for Peace. Shalom was a dream and a vision, a goal postponed until the end of days because many thought that true Shalom was Shlaymoot, Perfection. The Hebrew prophets prayed for Shalom, and they dreamed not of victory but of an end to violence. After a century of terrible destruction, the world has begun to realize that there is no alternative to Shalom. Yet an end to war is not Shalom. Violence is not only found in battle. Hunger and poverty are violence. Oppression and abuse are violence. We cannot wait to solve these problems; they are our problems, and their solution is in our hands. Shalom is Completion, Perfection, Repaying our debts and Realizing our dreams. When we vow to create Shalom, we take up our most sacred banner. We can have no higher obligation.
Shalom – Greetings
“Shalom” is Hebrew for “Hello.” Greetings are more important than we realize. How we greet another demonstrates affection, shows concern, expresses good wishes, or even exudes anger. A smiling face usually sees one in return, and a grim nod is reciprocated. Greeting can become a ritual without meaning. Yet a genuine smile, the use of a name, a sincere “it’s good to see you:” these are the beginnings of meaningful experiences. The Jewish philosopher Martin Buber wrote that we are always in one of two relationships: I-It and I-You. When we treat people only as an ‘it,’ something to be greeted and forgotten, we have missed an opportunity. Genuine life is an I-You relation, when our minds and hearts are open to others. When we take the time to replace the simple “Hi” with the Hebrew “Shalom,” we create a meaningful connection. It is the unexpected, the unpredictable, that shows that we care. “Shalom” has many meanings. “Hello” can be the most powerful.