The UUCR community mourns the recent murders at Marjory Douglas Stoneman High school, and recommits itself to working for sensible gun control legislation.  Rev. Debra decried scapegoating people with mental illnesses during her February 25th sermon, saying, “The problem is not with the one in two people in this country who will suffer with a mental illness in their lifetime; the problem is with the availability of deadly assault rifles to civilians and the non profit organization that owns too many politicians souls so that they fight against even the most minor gun control measures.”

The children and adults of UUCR sent these two banners to MDS students, teachers and staff this week:


UUCR New Year's Resolutions

On January 7, 2017, I suggested to the congregation ten possible New Year’s resolutions related to your involvement with UUCR.  You can listen to the sermon on our website here if you missed it. I hope this list will remind you about how you can live out your intentions for a more connected, more grateful 2018.

  1. Come to church every Sunday.  Okay, most Sundays. 
  2. Meet one person who is new to you each week.
  3. Invite someone to have lunch with you or to take a walk after services.
  4. Join a small group ministry. 
  5. Try being on a committee that is new to you. 
  6.  Bring a friend to church.
  7. Volunteer for one of our social action programs.  Do service for others.
  8. Take an adult RE class or think about teaching an adult RE class next fall.
  9. Attend a multigenerational event. 
  10. Show compassion and gratitude for each other!

Remember, all of our activities are posted on our calendar, listed in the handout we distribute each Sunday, and are in our eBlast and on our Facebook page.  It’s easy to be involved, and I promise you will be welcome!

My Father, Saul Haffner

Saul Haffner.jpg

Saul Haffner, 1930-2017

My dad, Saul Haffner, would have wanted to be here.  He loved being the center of attention.  Saul wanted to be with us for at least another 13 years.  Saul loved life, loved his life, and loved all of you.

Saul lived WELL.  He told me in June that the problem he saw with being 87 was that no one would say, “he was too young to die.”  But, of course to all of us, he was too young.  Any age would be too young to lose him. I am so grateful that he was able to fight against the mysterious illness that took him to be at Alyssa’s and Emily’s weddings and to co-officiate at Abigail’s.  None of us thought those would happen. 

My dad was brilliant and wise, as all of us who ever heard him speak or teach knew.  He loved learning and he loved teaching.   He loved travel, photography, theater, golf, watching sports, performing weddings and keeping up with politics. 

Saul wasn’t the best father of small children – but he was a great father to adults.  He liked all of us, including the grandchildren, better when we were able to talk with him about ideas or where we could share an experience with him.  He adored being the family patriarch – and I’m sure that none of us, including the son-in-laws and all of the 8 grandchildren will ever celebrate a seder without thinking about the Passovers at his table.  Or the Thanksgiving blended family adventures.

Saul’s last few years were diminished in some ways as his memory started to fail him and he no longer took delight in being surrounded by people.  But, in some ways, he became kinder, sweeter, and more attentive.  As his short-term memory started to fail him, he learned to concentrate on you in a way that his active mind in his earlier years prevented.  He lived well in the present moment.

Three years ago, as my dad was struggling to regain the ability to walk in a rehabilitation center, I said, “Dad, I’m so sorry about all of this.”  He replied, “It’s not so bad.  I read the New York Times, I watch a ball game on TV, you girls come to visit, they bring me my food, and a trainer comes to work me out twice a day.  If this is what my life is now, I’m okay.”  He defined his “good enough day.” I was so taken with his acceptance, his patience, and I told him I’d include that story in his eulogy. He made me promise to speak at his funeral.

I am flooded with so many memories – from trips we took when Jodi and I were children, to the wonderful trip to the Galapagos with Barbara and Saul, to his teaching me to golf, to the 80th birthday cruise to nowhere – to talking to my dad as we both discovered the Bible and him helping me learning Hebrew from his long-ago yeshiva lessons. How grateful I am to have had a father who he believed in me, who taught me that I could do or be anything, who I knew was always there for me.

Saul and I shared a love of religious leadership and scholarship. He was delighted that I was a minister, and I think he would have liked to have been young enough to study to be a rabbi.  He never stopped studying religion and I am grateful that I will receive all his Bible books.  He often said he wished we could do a wedding together.  I’m so sad that isn’t to be.

Saul called me about ten years ago, excited that he had found a wonderful poem by Henry Scott Holland to read at someone’s memorial service.  I’ve used it several times since, and to conclude, I share it with his voice in my mind today: 

Death is nothing at all.
I have only slipped away to the next room.
I am I and you are you.
Whatever we were to each other, 
That, we still are.

Call me by my old familiar name.
Speak to me in the easy way
which you always used.
Put no difference into your tone.
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.

Laugh as we always laughed
at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me. Pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word
that it always was.
Let it be spoken without effect.
Without the trace of a shadow on it.

Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same that it ever was.
There is absolute unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of mind
because I am out of sight? 

I am but waiting for you.
For an interval.
Somewhere. Very near.
Just around the corner.

All is well.

#MeToo Sunday, October 29, 2017

In the wake of the disclosures about movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, women across the United States have posted #MeToo almost two million times on Twitter and Facebook.  Almost every one of my women colleagues and friends has posted “MeToo”, speaking up, often for the first time, about how they have been sexually harassed, sexually abused, or the victim of sexual violence. I added my own #MeToo. 

(If you are not familiar with the #MeToo emerging movement, you might want to read this article.)

Sexual violence against women is not new, nor is it increasing.  What is new is this cultural moment of women claiming their voices and their agency from those who have hurt them. 

This Sunday, at our worship service, we will give voice to all who have survived sexual harassment, street harassment, sexual assault, sexual violence, domestic violence, and sexual misconduct. 

I’ll offer a sermon about these issues, including addressing the continuing echoes of the professional misconduct that happened here by three of your past religious professionals.  I’ll talk about UUCR’s commitment and polices to be a Sexually Safer Best Practice congregation.  After the sermon, there will be a rite of healing. 

I hope that by breaking silences and sharing words and music, we can comfort each other -- and resolve to listen, to believe, and to act to end sexual abuse, misconduct, and harassment.

Please know that if you are struggling these days with something that has happened in your past, I am here to listen.

I look forward to being with you this Sunday.