the lifeguard

Rabbi Frank: The Lifeguard | Rosh Hashanah 5782 Sermon

The Lifeguard

Rabbi Samantha Frank

Rosh Hashanah 5782/2021

Washington, DC

Shana tovah, my Rosh Hashanah Friends,

It’s just incredible to be here together, outdoors, on the New Year, in a new way. So much has changed since last Rosh Hashanah, and so much more has changed since Rosh Hashanah 5780, the last time we were together, in the great hall. We’ve been called to care for one another in a deeper way.

But let’s begin by taking a break from all of that. I invite you now to picture a lifeguard. What do you think of?

I’m thinking of a person in a red swimsuit, with a whistle around their neck to remind people to be safe, a person sitting atop a tall chair, with a view of the ocean, an acute ability to spot the start of danger. The lifeguard knows how to detect a ripcurrent, or spot a person who is struggling to stay afloat, and then acts quickly, using their tools and their skills to perform a rescue. Lifeguards seem like Gods among people.

It takes a special kind of person to choose this work. Yes, some lifeguards are high school and college students who want to stay in shape, be by the water, and get paid. But they are also willing to act with courage, to stand up and say, hineini, here I am, when there is a need.

Let’s zoom out, though, from this lifeguard for a moment.

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