The parsha Va’etchanan, Deuteronomy 3:23-7:11, includes a repetition of the 10 commandments as well as the Shema – which as we all know, ends with “Adonai is our God, Adonai is one.” But what does that mean – Adonai is one? Does it mean that there is only one God? Does it mean that God should be the primary focus in our life? Does it mean that we are one with God – as in God is one of us? The answer to all of the above is Yes.
But I would argue that none of that is enough – who cares if there is only one God if we are still killing each other in his or her name? What’s the point of putting God in the forefront of your life if you forget about others around you? And does it really matter if God is one of us if we can’t care for and respect one another? We need to be more than one with God – we need to start to be one with each other.
We need to be one with each other in our communities. Our neighborhoods are changing – and change can be difficult. So many of us now live next door to people who don’t necessarily look like us, or worship like us, or have similar families; but if we learned nothing from Hurricane Sandy it’s that recovery, survival and the ability to thrive is only possible when we work together and support one another in our communities.
We need to be one with each other in our synagogue, where all too often we forget that we are Am Echad – one people. We are one congregation and one community, yet we often do not act that way. Many of us have been guilty of holding on to who we were, rather than embracing who we have become – myself included. It needs to stop. We will only survive, grow and thrive if we work together and support one another.
We need to be one with our enemies. Admittedly, this is the most difficult to accomplish – whether it’s Hamas, any other anti-Semitic group or just a co-worker you don’t like – once we are able to realize that we don’t have to love each other, or even like each other, but we do have to let each one be one – we will all be able to survive and thrive.
And so I wrote this prayer – for everyONE:
There are a lot of things I know I don’t know – but the one thing I do know is we are one.
Your politics are different than mine – but we are one
Your skin color is different than mine – but we are one
You call your God by a different name – but we are one
We bleed the same color blood – because we are one
We give birth to children and sometimes bury them – because we are one
We love and are loved – because we are one
We will perish from this earth – only as one
We will join together and move ahead – only as one
We will know peace – only as one
— by Lisa Burch