Bridge Over Troubled Waters

Bridge over troubled waters. These are troubled times. They must be or else we would not be gathering together to explore this theme in pilgrimage. The ravages of Hurricane Sandy have not dissipated. The receding waters have not left us high and dry and secure. Like yesteryear’s disaster immortalized in the numbers 9 and 11, we were rendered naked and vulnerable by the visitation of Sandy. Our secure and insular shores became joined to the wild sea. Ocean currents and waves that had known their marks and boundaries paraded up and down the familiar streets and roads of our island mocking our frail structures, washing away dreams and hopes and investments and livelihoods, and even lives. Troubled waters in these troubling times, eroding the sand fortresses of our confidence. We are an island statement for these times.

America – it was once a statement of strength and confidence, a rock built fortress against which the confounding waves of the earth would beat relentlessly but in vain. We knew our America to be mighty, confident, secure, able to withstand the world’s shocks, able to deliver a mighty blow for honor, for justice, for right as we saw it and knew it. O where is that America in this storm tossed, wind driven world – America the beautiful, the proud, the strong, the beacon of hope, the light everlasting? We are losing our nerve, our moorings, our very way.

And that is why we are here. We seek to build bridges over these troubled waters. We – men, women and children of G-D – know that we cannot navigate alone. We seek pilgrims on this road, fellow travelers of good will to share the burden and lighten the way. We are the Building Bridges Coalition of Staten Island. Our cause is our common humanity. Our inspiration is the image of G-D bequeathed to each and every one of us as our most precious birthright. We come together throughout the year to mark those moments and occasions that will enhance our common dignity and sense of human and humane purpose. We celebrate our diversity in this enterprise, knowing that in our separate callings, our complex origins, our various worship services to the One Who made us all, that we are reaching for and girding ourselves with a light and a strength that raises us to new levels of significance.

On such occasions we join in a service of ecumenical Thanksgiving. We even find ourselves sitting around a common Passover seder table as we begin to understand the meaning of redemption in our own times when seen through four thousand year old eyes. Throughout it all we are engaged in what we are doing now: pilgrimage, learning from each other and through each other as we walk and talk and commune together. And in this endeavor we do, please G-D, find the strength and confidence to face the troubled waters. We even dare to hope and pray for healing waters of renewal – refreshing, cleansing purifying. For we, brothers and sister of the One G-D, are the Bridge over Troubled Waters. In joining hands and hearts and minds and souls, we become the living links of that chain of G-D’s own humankind that can and must overcome.

We are a small island in the vast ocean. We have been rocked and blasted by the forces out there that made their intemperate way in here. But we know, in our heart of hearts and soul of souls, that in here there is a fortress of hope, of aspiration – a longing and a calling to redeem America’s greatness and to find our way, a way that will call all the children of G-D to safety and righteousness. We are the Bridge. Join us in linking hands and hearts and make us, O G-D, ONE.

Rabbi Judah Newberger