July 26, 2013
Cantorial Soloist Marjorie Hochberg, Temple Emanu-El, Tucson, AZ
I recently watched an HBO special starring African-American comedienne, Wanda Sykes. Among other comments she made about growing up black in a mostly white society, one was especially memorable to me. She said her mother would not let Wanda and her siblings dance in the car. Picture it: a great song comes on the radio. Wanda and her brothers and sister kids starting grooving to the beat. And their mother slams on the brakes. She would say, "There is no dancing in the car. Either we are driving or dancing, but not both." She would continue, "White people are watching you."
"White people are watching you." Today, in the wake of the Trayvon Martin case, those words seem ominous. A little over a week ago, a Florida court acquitted George Zimmerman of charges of 2nd degree murder and manslaughter in the death of 17 year-old Trayvon Martin. Many of us heard this verdict on television as it was delivered from the Florida court. More than any other verdict in recent memory, this one has spurred a flood of discussion, commentary and criticism about many issues, including the nation's gun laws, the state of the nation for African American youth, and race relations in general in our country.
Read more: Eikev 5773: No More Strangers
May 31, 2013
Reverend Canon John E. Kitagawa, Temple Emanu-El, Tucson, AZ
I am very pleased to be with you once again, and I am honored be here at the bimah to address you. My starting point this evening is a little unusual, so please bear with me. All Episcopal clergy in Arizona have seen a video featuring Simon Sinek talking about How Great Leaders Inspire Action . Sinek's premise is rather simple. He uses the "Golden Circle" to illustrate. Imagine a target with a bull's eye in the middle, with two concentric circles around it. He labels the center "Why", the next circle "How", and the outer ring, "What". Sinek says most people are pretty clear about "What" a company or organization does, "How" they do it, but tend to be fuzzy about "Why" they do it. He goes on to use this simple construct to explain Martin Luther King, Jr's. ability to succeed where others had failed. Sinek's contention is that King succeeded because he focused on the "Why" rather than on the "What" or the "How". Many of us remember his "I Have a Dream" speech (08.28.1963).
Read more: Sh'lach L'cha 5773: The Why Factor