Yom Rivii, 1 Shevat 5778
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Avinu Malkeinu-we yearn for true compassion-for our children most of all.

There is nothing like meeting a brand new human being to give us hope for our future. The past two weeks of my life have been completely focussed on nurturing Noa, the newest member of our family. And yet as I recovered from her birth in the hospital and at home, I had to limit my time on the internet because of the impending and eventually devestating hurricane Harvey. Reading about the destruction of people’s entire lives has been too much for me to emotionally grasp in the wee hours of the morning as I feed Noa. I can’t stop the questions in my mind, what have we done to our planet? How will the thousands of people without homes and jobs, without loved ones to rely on or savings accounts to tap into rebuild their lives? And how are moms like me, just days out of the hospital with their newborns in the coastal towns and in Houston, fairing without access to the comforts of their homes?

This weekend I read a beautiful and uplifting article written by my colleague Rabbi David Segal, about the many ways faith communities are responding to the crisis in Houston. In the article he quotes Rev. Barkley Thompson, Dean of Christ Church Cathedral in downtown Houston, who believes that, "God does not cause the hurricane but can be found within it. God is in the redemption we will find together in response to this disaster." Rev. Barkley reminds me that I’ve been focusing on the wrong questions. Our friends and loved ones will rebuild their lives, with our help. Those that we do not know will find hope in the many organizations and foundations who are giving substantial amounts of fund to those who need it most. Perhaps we will learn more about why storms such as Harvey cause so much devastation, and in the rebuilding, prevent such destruction from taking place again.

God, help all of the victims of Harvey’s rage feel compassion, from you, from their fellow human beings and from within themselves. And be compassionate to each and every one of us, as we do our best to respond to the challenges of our time. With your help we will rebuild and repair our world with hope for future generations at the forefront of our minds.

--Rabbi Cohen