We saw a wonderful and inspiring Broadway show the other night. “Come from Away” which tells the true story of how residents of Gander, a Newfoundland island community of some 9000 people, responded with kindness and hospitality to 7,000 stranded international passengers whose airplanes were diverted when the United States airspace was closed on September 11, 2001. (38 airplanes were forced to land in Gander.)
The play celebrates kindness and charity toward distressed foreigners. At a time in history when there is so much cruel controversy regarding immigrants, we are introduced to ordinary people who act spontaneously out of concern for these strangers, extending welcome hospitality.
Yes, we are now in a time in which millions of immigrants are homeless and denied entry to increasingly xenophobic nations, including the United States.
While “Come from Away” is not a Jewish show, there are so many Torah values that find expression in this production. Kindness and welcome toward strangers, compassion for those who face great need, and the emergence of the best human instinct to identify with and respond to those who need us.
The Torah tells us, thirty-six times, to “remember the heart of the stranger for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” I think of that admonition especially in these times of intolerance, meanness and cruelty toward so many would-be immigrants.
“Come from Away” tells of the best that is in humanity: our capacity to feel for the plight of others, and our ability to ease the burden that so many people carry. The story reminds me of an observation made by the poet, Maya Angelou: “Do the best you can until you know better. And when you know better, do better.”
I wish you Shabbat Shalom and hope that you will join us for our outdoor service tonight on our patio at 7:30pm.