Thursday, December 6, 2007

A Tragic Blessing for Hanukkah

Congregation Children of Israel is a synagogue of Reform Judaism here in Augusta, Georgia. The fellowship is led by Rabbi Robert Klensin.

Our house is 1.5 miles from the synagogue.

Last night at 6:55 p.m. a single engine two-seat Piper airplane crashed into the side of the synagogue. Sadly, the pilot was killed. But none of the twelve people who were inside the building were injured. The building suffered only minor damage.

The Augusta Chronicle story on the incident noted that “the season of Hanukkah, which began Tuesday, is a time to count blessings; one is the making of miracles.” It is an interesting coincidence—Hanukkah commemorates the cleansing of the temple by the Maccabees in 165 BCE. Now during Hanukkah 2007 a synagogue is spared from severe damage and its congregants from harm.

Here’s another interesting coincidence: the event occurred during a time when many of the Christian churches in Augusta were involved in their weekly mid-week prayer service. I was two miles away at The Hill Baptist Church where we were having prayer meeting and a missions program.

The newspaper article also noted that at the time of the crash Rabbi Klensin was speaking at Covenant Presbyterian Church. While the article doesn’t say, I suspect he was talking to them about Hanukkah.

I’m using the word “coincidence” purposely. But they are interesting coincidences.

All time is sacred time, but I find it interesting that this all happened during an annual time of special sacredness for Jews and during a weekly time of sacredness for Christians. And the rabbi was speaking at a Christian church.

Was there a “miracle” in all of this? I don’t know. But I do find some special significance in this excerpt from the Chronicle’s story:

Rabbi Klensin said he thinks it's possible the pilot was trying to make an emergency landing. From the air, the only spot not covered with homes and trees is the school parking lot just west of the temple.

"Maybe in the last seconds of life he was looking out for other people," Rabbi Klensin said. No one on Walton Way was hurt.

If so, he did a good job.

To think of others in the last moments of your life—or in any moments of your life—that is a blessing and a miracle.

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