Rabbi's Letter June 2016

June 2016

Dear Friends:

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel was a brilliant theologian and gifted writer, a social activist at the  Jewish Theological Seminary for most of his teaching career.  In 1963 he was invited by then President John F. Kennedy to a conference about the nascent civil rights movement .  He responded via telegram ( a form of ancient social media ) and stated :

Likelihood exists that the (civil rights issues ) will be like the weather .   Everybody talks about it but nobody does anything about it .  Please demand of leader’s personal involvement and not just solemn declarations. .... I propose that you Mr. President declare a state of moral emergency.  ....the hour calls for high moral grandeur and spiritual audacity.

Bob Dylan in his majestic anthem Blowin' In The Wind  seized the moral high ground when he penned :   Yes and how many times must the cannon balls fly before they're forever banned ?
Yes and how many times can a man turn his head and pretend that he just doesn't see.

With tremendous sadness, the answer is still Blowin' in the wind !

The events in Orlando that left 49 people dead, massacred in a night club , is not a tragedy .  Tragedies are unanticipated calamities - floods, fires, earthquakes that happen and generally cannot be prevented and often incomprehensible and beyond our understanding.

What transpired in Orlando was an act of terrorism, an act of mass murder, part of a vicious cycle of mass killings and gun violence that has impacted upon our country with chilling and numbing frequency.   Our political leadership grieves the losses and lowers flags to half staff and the gridlock in Washington precludes even the most common sense baby steps to prevent terrorists from having access to weapons designed solely to slaughter human beings.

The perpetrator of this attack targeted gays at the Pulse Nightclub.  Yet his hatred was not limited to gender as the terrorist had Disney in his sights and Jewish institutions as well .  The terrorist ( whose name I will not mention as a gesture that his constant photo and name being in the news and social media only engenders others to seek his poisonous infamy ) was inspired by virulent hatred espoused by radical Islamic jihadists .

This mass murder was a brutal attack on all Americans irrespective of gender, ethnicity , race or religion .  This murderous rampage was inspired by those fanatic who betray and have hijacked Islam .

Abraham was called upon - in a test of his and our humanity - to bind his son Isaac upon the altar.   God called out not to ever harm his son.  Abraham passed this litmus  test of humanity as the clarion message of God is that faith never calls upon adherents to murder others .  The legacy of Judaism to Christianity and Islam is to absolutely ban all faith based terror - never to harm the children of God in the name of faith .  To do so is to be godless and soulless.

And yet hate filled propaganda continues to inundate the web and radical Islamic terrorist groups advocate jihad unhindered in social media . The freedom of speech does not include the freedom to engage in hate speech or to incite violence against the government.  We have abridged freedom of speech in order to protect those who are vulnerable and to preclude hate crimes . We legally ban texting as distractive driving in order to save lives and reduce accidents.

The number of violent deaths caused by guns in America stands alone in the world.  No other country has this level of rampant gun violence and no other country has this level of mass murders. After 26 children and teachers were murdered at Newtown all that many had hoped for was to prevent assault weapons from being in civilian hands .  Neither you nor I can buy a can of spray paint without presenting identification and the cans are kept behind locked metal cages .  Yet assault weapons designed only to kill human beings are accessible to good guys and bad guys alike .  We ban toys that are deemed too dangerous for children.  We ban lead in paint as a health hazard .  Yet the right to bear arms has become so sacrosanct that our country fears banning military weapons that are permitted to be freely sold to even those on the terrorist watch list .

Even many NRA supporters understand that the right to bear Arms would NOT be infringed if certain weapons of mass destruction would be taken off the commercial market in the same fashion that we preclude toys, hate speech and spray paints from being accessible to Americans.  

As Americans we have rights and privileges that are granted to us ...and all of these are predicated upon the basic belief that we have a right to live, to be alive,  in this great and free country. If this is to remain the land of the free and the home of the brave - now is the time for us to bravely advocate to safeguard our families and our communities ! Freedom involves responsibilities and a tenacious desire to protect our families from the ongoing gun violence in America.  Over this past Memorial Day weekend , 64 people were shot in Chicago alone.
How long will turn our heads until the cannon balls are banned ?

The role of parents and of government is to protect all from the preventable hazards around us.

Laura and I have recently been blessed with the birth of our first grandchild, our grandson Lev born to Yael and Yair .  Life is a gift that is nurtured, cherished, treasured and safeguarded at all times . My hope for all of our children and all of our grandchildren is that we do what we can in the great country to insure the safety and well being of those we love the most.   Tragedies abound in our world that happen and are unpreventable.  
Not all acts of terrorism , not all acts of violence with assault weapons can be prevented .  but imagine how many acts of violence could be prevented if Americans worked together to resolve these issues.    Doing nothing is no longer an option.  The Torah declares that we should not stand idly by while the blood of our brothers cries out to us.  How many more families will have to grieve when their children became victims of mass murder in their  schools , on their university campuses, in movie theaters and at  clubs? Isn’t there a better path that we can walk on as a civil society. 

As a faith community and as part of the mosaic of faith communities can we band together against the inertia and cowardice of the political world.  Can we find the inner courage of moral grandeur and spiritual audacity to take even small steps to make our world safer for our children and grandchildren ?  To say that the answer is Blowin' in the wind is to condemn so many more innocents to die!  Can we work together within our political and faith communities to find common sense answers to prevent the massacres that are defining the 21st century as one of devastating mass murders and acts of terrorism in America ?

We can't do much about the weather.  We can do something to protect our future !
I hope and pray that my words will stir us to seek justice and act with righteousness .
Some reading this may disagree with these ideas.  You may find it unconscionable that religious leaders are seeking to ban assault weapons or that this is an affront to your Constitutional liberties. You have that right and privilege to disagree.  Yet all reading this  would agree that our lives and protecting our children is a core value – a  moral priority that far outweighs personal assault weapon ownership.   Religious teachings are intended to have us question our long held beliefs and understand that there is a great moral compass   .  We live in a glorious county where we constitutionally place minor limits on rights for safety , life, health and well being .  Protecting lives is sacred.   Owning assault weapons is not a freedom - it is a harbinger of death . True liberty is to watch our children grow up in a country where they no longer need to fear the assault of terrorists and mass murderers.  May freedom ring from sea to shining sea!

With warmest regards and soulful blessings from  Yael & Yair, Aviva, Hillel, Elie, Noam, Laura and myself !  Shalom, Rabbi Howard R. Buechler

What's Happening at DHJC





Service Times

Normal Service Times - (Except Holidays & Shivas)

Daily Morning Minyan
Monday and Thursday, 6:45am
Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, 7am
Sunday, 9am

Daily Evening Minyan
Sunday to Thursday, 8pm

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Saturday, 9:15am

Mincha, Maariv and Havdalah 
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DHJC would love to keep in touch with your college student while they are away at school. Sisterhood would like to include your college student in our Collegiate Outreach Program. As a member of DHJC, your undergraduate college student(s) are entitled to receive various mailings and good wishes, all geared to the Jewish lifestyle and calendar.

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Welcome to the Dix Hills Jewish Center

Welcome to the Dix Hills Jewish Center, a Conservative Congregation, celebrating 50 years as a beacon of dynamic Judaism in Dix Hills. We are a traditional egalitarian synagogue committed to the reality that all Jews are full partners in the beauty of Jewish life and that all Jews are given an equal role in all rituals. The Dix Hills Jewish Center is an engaging, vibrant congregation. We are excited about the growth in our synagogue, and the wonderful growth of the Jewish community of Dix Hills, Commack and the neighboring communities. We are a community committed to learning, to supporting each other, and to being a warm and welcoming place for all who participate. Welcome to the Dix Hills Jewish Center.

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In Case Of........


For joyous occassions in your life, please share your naches with the Rabbi. Inform the Rabbi about births, engagements, weddings and other noteworthy moments in the life of your family. The Rabbi will arrange for baby namings, provide information regarding a mohel ( for infant boys), coordinate a pidyon ha-ben (the redemption ceremony for firstborn males), schedule an aufruf (to celebrate a forthcoming marriage), weddings and bring the richness of Jewish traditions and mitzvoth into your simcha(email rabbi or call 631-499-6644).


In case of illness and/or hospitalization, please notify the Rabbi at 631-499-6644 (24/6 - on Shabbat, see below for further emergency instructions)


Even before making funeral arrangements notify Rabbi Buechler at the synagogue office at 631-499-6644 (after office hours press #3 for the emergency numbers). Rabbi Buechler will assist and guide you in making the appropriate arrangements for the funeral. In the event that you cannot reach the Rabbi, contact the Jewish funeral home and begin to make your arrangements. PLEASE, if Rabbi Buechler is going to officiate at the funeral, do not finalize the funeral time until the Rabbi has contacted you. At most this will be a few hours. In the event that Rabbi Buechler is on vacation, Cantor Hevenstone is available and other local Conservative Rabbis are on call. Their names can be obtained by calling the synagogue office, an officer of the synagogue or the Ritual Chairman. It is also appropriate to contact Rabbi Buechler whenever tragedy or trauma occurs. On Shabbat and Yomtov the Rabbi does not use the telephone. Therefore, you can convey information to him on these days at the synagogue during scheduled service times, by calling him immediately after Shabbat or Yomtov or by going to his residence.

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Do you have a relative or friend in our congregation who would benefit from a personal home visit? We are here for you! Members of our DHJC Social Action Committee - Tender Loving Congregants -- will happily come to visit and chat. BIKUR CHOLIM -- we visit our friends and relatives in Gurwin. Become a volunteer. Learn how.

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Whether you are 20 or 120, or anything in between, we would like to honor you on the anniversary of your bar or bat mitzvah. Please send the date of your bar/bat mitzvah or the name of your parsha to Lee Grebstein [email protected]

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