SASSO: An open letter to the incoming vice president

(Indianapolis Business Journal, December 17, 2016)

Dear Vice President-elect Pence:

Congratulations on your election to the vice presidency of the United States of America. As rabbis in the city of Indianapolis, we have had the honor of knowing and collaborating with you frequently over the past decade. We have valued your graciousness and your friendly manner.

It will not surprise you that we have often viewed with concern several of your policies and comments as governor, which, despite their calm and civil tone, have sometimes yielded discrimination and disenfranchisement. As you assume the vice presidency of our country and take the national stage, allow us to add to our congratulations the following pleas.

Please advocate and advance the welfare, rights and privileges of all citizens, residents and visitors, regardless of race, gender identity, religion or ethnicity, within the boundaries of our nation. May your oft-proclaimed identity as “Christian, conservative and Republican” be practiced in the service of your identity as an “American,” the vice president of a diverse nation. Please respect and honor the religious differences and the spectrum of deeply held moral values on women’s rights, reproductive freedom and LGBTQ rights. Please always see to it that the Constitution of the United States of America be enshrined above any one community’s scriptures or interpretations thereof.

We ask that you encourage and guide our new president-elect to be discerning in word and in deed, in intention and execution, that he may create a climate of civility, harmony and hope. His campaign and early transition have not always inspired confidence in this regard. We hear daily from Hoosiers who are afraid, who experience intimidation and bullying, who are being told there is only one America and that it is white and Christian. This should be repudiated in no uncertain terms. Children should not be made to feel unsafe because of who they are, because of their race, faith or where they came from.

Please counsel President-elect Trump to build an infrastructure of tolerance and trust so that we might achieve the greatness of the America we love, with freedom, liberty and justice for all. Help him to speak out against the increasing and emboldened acts of hate and vandalism, so our children and grandchildren learn that bullying, disparagement and antagonism are not tolerated in our nation and are not paths to success or models of leadership.

Dear Mr. Pence, you brought a touch of civility and reason to the angry rhetoric of the campaign. But Hoosier hospitality is only true if beneath it lies respect for all people, even those with whom we disagree, and respect for a broad spectrum of truth.

We are emerging from the current electoral season with a sense of mistrust, insecurity and fear, with a sense that America is divided and polarized, that we are no longer “one nation under God.” May the pronouncements, directives and decisions of the newly elected leadership dispel any apprehension that we are entering a period of fractured trust. May the words and deeds of the new administration yield conciliatory purpose and constructive endeavor.

In the spirit of hope of our state’s bicentennial and of the approaching holiday season, we wish you and Mrs. Pence blessings of health and fulfillment in Washington, D.C., as we pray for harmony, goodwill and peace upon America and the world.

Respectfully yours,

Rabbis Dennis and Sandy Sasso•
__________

The Sassos have served as spiritual leaders of Congregation Beth-El Zedeck since 1977. Sandy Sasso is director of the religion, spirituality and the arts initiative at Butler University and Christian Theological Seminary. 

Sasso: A vision for the third Hoosier century

(Indianapolis Star, December 14, 2016)

We stand on the brink of a new century for Indiana. This past year as we have celebrated the state’s bicennential we have remembered stories that have made us proud and others that were a source of shame. Examining the truth about our past without cliché or nostalgia affords us the wisdom to move forward into the next century.

We remember; not to live in the past but with it. Memories teach us. They are mirrors into our own souls, windows into the hearts of others and gateways through which to ignite the future.

The prophet taught, “Your old shall dream dreams and your youth shall see visions.” We have dreamed of all that has made us Indiana. Now it is time to envision the future.

Let me share with you what I have learned from the visions of the young Hoosiers whom I have come to know:

They envision more green spaces, clean air and waterways, safe places to explore.

They want quality education and economic opportunity, equality for men and women, an environment free from fear of violence.

They want an end to bullying, intimidation, words and acts of hate.

They value science, not just so they can have the next new gadget, but so that decisions about their future are based on reasoned inquiry and accumulated knowledge.

Our young people want Hoosier hospitality to extend to everyone regardless of race, gender identity, ethnicity or religion, and to wrap its arms around diversity, while uniting us in the bonds of responsible citizenship.

Our youth imagine a state known for its ideas and its talents, for its science and technology, its music, art, literature and theater. They dream of a place with a soul.

To ignite the future requires us to take risks and admit mistakes, to listen and embrace civility, to be open to new ideas in a state where all Hoosiers have a future, where everyone is welcome, everyone is in.

As we enter our third century, let us learn from the past, affirm the present and shape the future.

Let the waters of the Wabash wash away willful antagonisms.

Let the sands of the Indiana Dunes bury old grudges.

Let the springs of West Baden invigorate and renew us.

Let the bridges of Madison County carry us safely over the divides-rural and urban, rich and poor, young and old, black and white, immigrant and native born.

Let the example of men and women whose words and deeds have made us proud, continue to remind us of the power of human kindness, of creativity, of philanthropy and entrepreneurship to change the world;

Let Indiana limestone soften our resistance to change and build monuments to human dignity;

Let sugar cream pie teach us the sweet art of mixing and the mingling of people.

As we enter the next Hoosier century, let us recall the words of our poet, James Whitcomb Riley, “the future will come with the honest hand of labor, the honest heart of loveliness, the honest soul of love.”

With these hopes and commitments, let us go forth and ignite the future.

Sasso is rabbi emeritus of Congregation Beth-El Zedeck and director of the Religion, Spirituality and the Arts Initiative at Butler University.

Indiana Board of Rabbis

(Indiana Board of Rabbis, December 12, 2016)15392845_1129495793829781_3944760787324098424_o

As we move out of an election that has been contentious and disturbingly divisive, the clergy of Indianapolis are united in condemning the hateful rhetoric that was let loose during the campaign. We are all managing the pain of some in our congregations, while supporting those celebrating the victory of President-Elect Trump. We can all agree that we must stand for tolerance, love and for the preservation and protection of the diversity that is the hall mark of our country.

There is work to be done in order to heal our nation. We are not naive or bright eyed on that truth. We also think there are, in the short term, meaningful acts that will signal hope and connection across faiths. We thought this simple project would spread a message or peace, hope and tolerance as we welcome in 2017.

We gather as diverse group of clergy – Christian, Muslim, and Jewish in support of “Forward Together Toward A Year Of Light” sponsored by The Wexner Foundation, 92nd Street Y, and Partnership of Faith in New York City. We are neighbors standing for common purpose.

Sasso: Leonard Cohen, and standing against darkness

(Indianapolis Star, November 23, 2016)

One of the greatest poets, songwriters and singers of our generation died recently. For 50 years Leonard Cohen gave voice to the pain and hope of thousands of followers.

Weeks before his death, he released an album, “You Want It Darker.” Most interpreters of Cohen have understood the lyrics of the album’s lead song to be an acceptance of mortality. Using the Hebrew word meaning, “here I am” he sings, “Hineni, hineni, I’m ready, my lord.”

However, I would like to suggest a different understanding, one that calls on all of Cohen’s admirers and listeners not to accept the darkness we confront in our nation.

There is a special prayer in the Jewish High Holy Day liturgy called, Hineni. It occurs at no other time of the year and it is sung by the cantor. It begins, “Here I am poor in deeds, rattled and afraid…” The cantor recognizes that he or she is not worthy of the task of pleading for compassion on behalf of the people who have come to pray. Still the cantor asks that his or her prayer for mercy on behalf of the righteous, the gracious, the innocent and the honest be accepted.

The prayer is often followed by words of the kaddish as it is in Cohen’s song. “Magnified, sanctified, be Thy holy name.” When I read the traditional words, “Receive my prayer as the prayer of one who is old and whose voice is pleasant…” it does not take much to imagine that is Cohen who speaks them, pleading on behalf of the people he loves.

We can touch the darkness, of which Cohen speaks, the brokenness, the shame, the suffering. With our national election just concluded, the language of hate, the demeaning of minorities, immigrants and women is escalating.

The South Poverty Law Center reported an increase in threats and vandalism since Donald Trump’s election. In Maryland the rector of Episcopal Church found the sign advertising Spanish services ripped and overwritten with the words, “Trump Nation Whites Only.” Anti-Semitic graffiti — including a swastika and the words “Heil Trump” —appeared at a bus stop at the University of California at San Diego. Black students at the University of Pennsylvania were threatened as was a Muslim student at the University of Michigan.

In Indiana, in Bean Blossom, the walls of Saint David’s Episcopal Church were vandalized with swastikas, the words “Heil Trump,” and a homophobic slur most likely because of the church’s position on gay marriage. In Bloomington, white men in a truck yelled obscenities at a black women along with, “Trump is going to deport you back to Africa.” Recently, on “60 Minutes,” Trump said that he is going to deport 3 million people who are undocumented and criminals. “We are going to have a deportation force.”

Could Leonard Cohen’s words be true? Do we want it darker? Or are we ready to write, organize and speak out for the values of justice and loving kindness. Whatever our political affiliation, some things cannot stand. We must be the voice who says, “Here I am, rattled and afraid,” but not silent.

In the words of another great poet, Dylan Thomas:

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Sasso is rabbi emeritus of Congregation Beth-El Zedeck and director of the Religion, Spirituality and the Arts Initiative at Butler University.

Sasso: UN overlooks strength of real women

(Indianapolis Star, November 1, 2016)

Recently the United Nations in its effort to advance women’s issues, appointed an honorary ambassador for the empowerment of women and girls around the globe.

Ironically, it wasn’t one of the seven qualified female candidates who were overlooked in the election of the new UN secretary general. It wasn’t Oby Ezekweskili, vice president for the World Bank’s African Division, who started the “Bring Back Our Girls” campaign to return the Chibok schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram. It wasn’t Winnie Byanyima, executive director of Oxfam International, who has championed gender equality and chaired UN task forces on gender. It wasn’t Malala Yousafzai, the youngest person to win the Nobel Peace Prize for her continued work on girls’ educational opportunities; Malala was shot in the head by the Taliban for promoting girls’ education. It wasn’t any of a number of women from around the world who have led advocacy and grass-roots efforts to promote women’s welfare.

Instead of selecting one of these female leaders, the United Nations appointed Wonder Woman as the honorary ambassador for the empowerment of women and girls. That’s right – they did not choose a real woman, but a cartoon character! Somehow they believe that this choice sends a strong message about gender-based violence and greater participation of women in public life.

Perhaps we should not be all that surprised. The UN is behind on its pledge of gender parity in senior appointments. Some UN peacekeepers are known to sexually abuse civilians.

The United Nations Women Empowerment Principles include the following:

1. Establish high-level corporate leadership for gender equality

2. Treat all women and men fairly at work — support human rights and nondiscrimination

3. Ensure the health, safety and well-being of all women and men workers

4. Promote education, training and professional development for women

5. Implement enterprise practices that empower women

6. Promote equality through community initiatives and advocacy

7. Measure and publicly report on progress to achieve gender equality

Despite some advances, these goals are far from being met. The UN is aware of the atrocities committed against women and girls in war-ravaged countries. Reports of abuse against Iraqi and Syrian women continue. South Sudanese women and girls are raped by armed men with total impunity. There are numerous examples of the political marginalization of women in public life and decision-making.

It is hard to understand how a cartoon figure can impact the lack of female leadership around the world. Globally, 65 million girls are not in school. Of the 1.3 billion people in poverty world-wide, 70% are women. According to World Bank data, women ages 15 to 44 are more at risk from rape and domestic violence than from cancer, motor accidents, war and malaria. It is estimated that one in five women worldwide will become a victim of rape or attempted rape in her life time.

Wonder Woman’s dress and physique may appeal to the fantasy of some men, but it is hard to see how she can possibly make a difference regarding the serious issues facing women around the world. Wonder Woman does have some extraordinary traits. She is said to be able to run at 60 miles per hour, lift a 50,000-pound boulder over her head and possess phenomenal scientific knowledge. It is good to have a female cartoon character who is both strong and smart, but what we need in order to lift the much heavier barriers to women’s empowerment is a real woman!

Sasso is rabbi emeritus of Congregation Beth-El Zedeck and director of the Religion, Spirituality and the Arts Initiative at Butler University.

Rabbis Dennis and Sandy Sasso honored as “Hoosier Jewish Legends” by Indiana Jewish Historical Society

Rabbi Dennis C. Sasso and Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso were among the first cohort of Indiana Jewish leaders to be recognized by the Indiana Jewish Historical Society as “Hoosier Jewish Legends.”  The recognition was presented at the Annual Meeting of the IJHS on Sunday, October 23, 2016 at the Broadmoor Country Club.

Rabbis Dennis and Sandy Sasso came to Indianapolis in 1977 and have made their mark not only upon Congregation Beth-El Zedeck but in the civic and interfaith communities of our state, as well as nationally and internationally.

Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso was born in Philadelphia and Rabbi Dennis C. Sasso is a native of Panama, Republic of Panama.  They were both ordained at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in 1974.  Both rabbis are recipients of the Sagamore of the Wabash, the highest honor awarded by the Governor of the State of Indiana.

Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso is the author of many children’s books and writes on the subject of children’s and women’s spirituality.  Since she became Rabbi Emerita of Congregation Beth-El Zedeck in 2013, she has led the Religion, Spirituality and the Arts initiative at Butler University and Christian Theological Seminary, a project underwritten by the Lilly Endowment.

Rabbi Dennis C. Sasso is Senior Rabbi of Congregation Beth-El Zedeck and is an affiliate professor of Jewish studies at Christian Theological Seminary and author of academic and popular articles on Judaism, interfaith and civic concerns. They both write a column for the Indianapolis Star.

Other honorees included:  *Max Einstandig (Terre Haute), Leonard Goldstein (Fort Wayne), *Dr. Louis Lemberger (Indianapolis), *Frank Newman (Indianapolis), *Lawrence Reuben (Indianapolis), *Helen Schwartz (Muncie), Martin Schwartz (Muncie), *Elizabeth Weinberg (Madison).

(*deceased)

Sandy Sasso and Dennis Sasso: Finding strength in this election season

(Indianapolis Star, October 6, 2016)

Earlier this week we welcomed the Jewish New Year, 5777. In Hebrew the letters of the alphabet have numerical value. The two letters that denote this year (77) spell the Hebrew word oz, which means “strength.”

The word also calls to mind the 1939 film based on the story of the “Wizard of Oz.” That play and ephemeral place have been celebrated in the beautiful lullaby “Somewhere over the Rainbow,” the most popular American song of the 20th century.

The song is much more than a children’s lullaby. It was composed and written by Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg, two sons of Eastern European Jewish descent who immigrated to the Unites States. The tune embodies history and hope and is filled with Jewish imagery and symbolism.

The reference to “above the chimney tops” eerily alludes to the impending Holocaust and the “land over the rainbow that I once heard in a lullaby” is the yearning for the land of Israel. The land of dreams, of course, also resonates with images of an America of promise and hope.

It became apparent to us that the film spoke over the decades directly to us, warning us that what we need is “oz,” strength, and not the Wizard of Oz.

The Wizard was thirsty for power. Unqualified, he was called “The Great Oz.” He made others believe that he possessed magic. He promised things that everyone wished for but could not accomplish. He managed to trick others because, in part, they were ready to be misled. Requiring the citizens of Oz to put on green colored glasses to make the place appear as an emerald city, he convinced them that he could perform spectacular feats.

Those who felt lost and hopeless went to seek his advice and ask for his help, believing that only he could solve their malaise, save them from their desperation. The scarecrow, the lion, the tin man and Dorothy sought a brain, courage, a heart and a home. And off they went “to see the Wizard, the wonderful Wizard of Oz” because they “hear he is a whiz of a wiz, if ever a wiz there was.”

The Wizard insults the supplicants and frightens them with his pronouncements. He speaks forcefully, but what he says has little factual basis. Instead he uses intimidation and allows no disagreement, as he shouts, “Do you presume to criticize the Great Oz?”

In L. Frank Baum’s novel, the Wizard appears in different forms to each visitor: a giant green head, a lovely fairy, a big ball of fire and a monstrous beast with horns. In truth, he is none of these, but just a man who uses props and tricks to make himself a commanding presence. Once the curtain is drawn away, he is shown to be just a little man, a “humbug.”

As we approach the elections, let us not to be deceived as those who once sought Oz as the answer to their problems. It is wise to pull aside the curtain to see what is behind all the blustery rhetoric and the insults and to remind ourselves what it is that really makes someone capable of leading the United States of America.

As we anticipate the year ahead, one of challenge and possibilities, of fears and opportunities, let us not pray for a Wizard of Oz but for oz, the strength to make wise decisions so that “the dreams that you dare to dream, really do come true.”

Sandy Sasso is senior rabbi emerita of Congregation Beth-El Zedeck and director of the Religion, Spirituality and the Arts Initiative at Butler University. Dennis Sasso is senior rabbi at Congregation Beth-El Zedeck in Indianapolis.

Sasso: Why does fashion industry hold regular women in disdain?

(Indianapolis Star, September 28, 2016)

Along with the onset of football season, harvesting, and raking, is the arrival of fashion week and store catalogues. I mostly recycle those magazines without opening them and pay little attention to the newest runway fashion shows.

But the national and international news has been so depressing that I thought the new season’s fashions might provide relief. What I saw was disheartening. While models are no longer anorexic and a few are plus size, they simply do not look like most American women. Truth be told, I am not sure most America women actually care to look like the models in the catalogues and on runways.

The new upscale styles are worn by women and men who appear miserable, suspicious or downright depressed. If there are other people around, no model makes eye contact. I ask myself, “Why does everyone look so angry, distant and unengaged? Why do only few people look past 40 or wear anything bigger than a size 2?”

In a Sept. 8 article in The Washington Post, fashion consultant Tim Gunn notes that many designers and merchandisers say that they are not interested in plus size women, despite the reality that there are 100 million of them in the United States. It is hard to understand the contempt many designers have for such an important market. Gunn asked a designer why he did not make clothes for these women. He responded, “I don’t want her wearing my clothes. She won’t look the way I want her to look.”

The concern of the fashion world should be on how women want to look and feel. And one thing is for certain, they do not want to wear clothes that make them feel as dejected as most runway models appear. While there are more models who are older and plus size this year, they too look despondent.

Even as we might wish to lose a few pounds, we do not aspire to the misery and contempt reflected on the models’ faces. The only reason I can imagine for such tortured expressions is that some of the women are wearing stilettos! I was surprised to learn that it is not the shoes that produce such painful faces, but the instructions that models are given to frown and not to make eye contact.

The higher priced the clothing, jewelry and perfume the more miserable the model looks. Somehow scowls mean status. If you are modeling expensive items, the distant look tells others that you are too important to notice or care about anyone else. Shouldn’t wealth and success make us more compassionate than conceited?

In my family, when someone bought a new outfit, we said, “You should wear it in good health.” The Hebrew saying is, titchadesh, meaning “renew yourself.” In other words, the custom was to wish our friends enjoyment and long life, enough years to wear out the garment and to buy a new one. We hoped that life would be full of creativity, engagement and service, not dejection, disdain and dissatisfaction.

There is good reason to applaud the trend toward greater inclusivity of age and size. I’d like to see another trend, one in which models show compassion, curiosity and joy, not arrogance, apathy and gloom. The problems in our world present enough reasons for us to be afraid, angry and worried. Clothes, no matter what the cost, should make us feel good about ourselves and renew us.

Sasso is rabbi emeritus of Congregation Beth-El Zedeck and director of the Religion, Spirituality and the Arts Initiative at Butler University.

 

Sasso: Compassion pushes back against hatred

(Indianapolis Star, August 8, 2016)

It is easy to lose our faith in humanity. Just open up the morning newspaper or check the latest updates of world events. Every act of violence, racially motivated or “religiously” inspired, has us questioning whether the human heart is suffering from some incurable moral sclerosis. Have conflicts, ethnic, religious and racial divisions so hardened our arteries that nothing can reduce their deleterious effects?

We all know anger and hatred. But what allows resentment to turn into uncontrollable rage, directed not at a single person or group, but against a whole range of unknown people? What allows disgust to balloon into indiscriminate violence?

The news leaves us reeling, wondering whether humanity is at its core irredeemable. The ancient rabbis record a discussion about whether man and woman should have been created. Surprisingly, they answer that it might have been better had human beings not been created, but having been created, they should examine and mend their ways. They conclude that world always totters between good and evil, survival and extinction; only compassion and grace sustain its existence.

I was wondering whether grace had succumbed to an untimely death, when I recently discovered the face of compassion where I had least expected it.

One hot afternoon, I took an ill-fated a walk on the Monon. Dehydrated and without a hat, I passed out, fractured my wrist and sustained a number of abrasions. Two kind women stopped, sat with me, offered me water and waited until my husband arrived. Although I assured them that they did not need to stay, that I really was fine, they insisted. When I thanked them, they said, “It’s nothing, not a problem.

Some weeks later, I lost my cell phone. After arriving at my office, I checked the “find my phone” app on my iPad. This amazing technology indicated that my phone was lying on the ground in the lot I had just left. I immediately returned and looked near the cars where the GPS was indicating. A gracious woman, her arms filled with packages, noticed my darting in and out among the parked cars. To assure her that I had only good intentions, I informed her that I had lost my cell phone and it was somewhere nearby. The woman put down her purchases, called my phone number in hopes of hearing the ring and when nothing worked, she got on her hands and knees and looked under the cars with me. She stayed for 15 minutes! I kept saying, “You don’t have to do this. What can I do for you?” She responded, “It’s nothing, not a problem.”

In the end, another woman discovered the phone lying next to her car and kindly brought it over to me. I could not thank her enough. She said, “It’s nothing, not a problem.”

Women, whom I did not know and who did not know me, stopped from their busy schedules to help a stranger.

Here is what I believe: Grace and compassion don’t show up from out of nowhere, but come from the hands and hearts of human beings. It is like electricity. It is always flowing through the wires, but it doesn’t work unless someone turns on the switch. Kindheartedness exists; we just need more people flipping on the switch.

Sasso is rabbi emeritus of Congregation Beth-El Zedeck and director of the Religion, Spirituality and the Arts Initiative at Butler University.

Sasso: Our history informs our future

(Indianapolis Star, July 3, 2016)

The kitchen of the Levi Coffin House in Fountain City, known as "the Grand Central Station of the Underground Railroad." (Photo: IndyStar)

The kitchen of the Levi Coffin House in Fountain City, known as “the Grand Central Station of the Underground Railroad.”
(Photo: IndyStar)

 

On July 4, we light grills and fireworks, wave flags and gather with friends and family. This holiday, celebrating our nation’s deeply cherished freedoms, offers the perfect opportunity to reflect on two Hoosiers who fought for liberty in the 19th century, when freedom’s reach embraced some, but not all.

In the 1800s, Levi and Catharine Coffin’s house in Fountain City served as a waystation for thousands of Freedom Seekers who made the terrifying journey north in search of a new life. Levi and Catharine were Quakers, dedicated to the idea of equality, regardless of race. Their home was known as the “Grand Central Station” of the Underground Railroad. As prominent business owners, they risked their own lives, relationships and reputations to bring freedom to those who had been denied that right.

The Coffins’ home was a house built on secrets. It was constructed with an interior well to disguise how much water was being drawn from it. Concealed behind a bed was a door to a tiny room under the eaves of the house, where it was possible for slaves to hide from bounty hunters. Every Freedom Seeker who sought shelter in the Coffin house left safely. Many of them arrived and departed in the false-bottomed wagon Levi had designed and built for that purpose. Levi and Catharine Coffin were concerned with the futures of those they helped to become free, not with any legacy of their own. Their dedication to the American values of compassion and justice deserves remembering.

Our nation is at a crossroads. We stand looking back on a history of courage and vision that we have yet to fully realize. As we celebrate our own state’s bicentennial, this Fourth of July, beyond cookouts and fireworks, is a time to reflect on how far we have come and look ahead to the work that still needs to be done.

The Coffins did not labor alone. The community around them – fellow Quakers, like-minded Hoosiers, and even Freedom Seekers who stayed behind to help – banded together to assist them in their efforts. The cause united them in the face of wrong-doing and oppression, giving them the courage to stand strong for human dignity and freedom and to make a difference in the lives of those who suffered under the unjust laws and practices of the time.

Sometimes, the best way to reflect on that history is to look it in the eye, especially when it’s waiting in our own back yard. Less than two hours from Indianapolis, the Levi Coffin House still stands. Its walls are lined with untold stories that serve as a reminder of the past and an inspiration for the future. This nationally recognized State Historic Site welcomes visitors, giving them an opportunity to see this remarkable history first-hand. Visitors to the Levi Coffin House are able to witness the role it played in the lives of so many who called it home – no matter how briefly – during a tumultuous and challenging time. We stand at such a time once again. A visit to this house is an important reminder of what our present task should be.

The Levi Coffin House State Historic Site is currently open to the public June through August, from 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. After December, when the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites unveils their brand-new, state-of-the-art interpretive center next door to the Coffin House, the site will be open year-round. For more information on how to visit this remarkable piece of history, visit www.indianamuseum.org/explore.

Sasso is rabbi emeritus of Congregation Beth-El Zedeck and director of the Religion, Spirituality and the Arts Initiative at Butler University.