Can you believe it’s already August. The summer is surely moving too fast for my liking. I’m definitely a warm weather person and that’s the reason I escape to Florida or Arizona for three weeks in the winter. Just enough time to “remember” what warmer weather feels like and looking forward to spring. This past July, myself, Cindra and Dom and Sue Comi took a camping trip to Cook Forest. Well, not the backpacking into the woods camping trip. It would be too much to hike with an inflatable air mattress in my pack with an ornery back. So, we did the cabin on the creek venture. I was in charge of starting the campfire. I don’t know why they left me with this task (I was a Campfire Girl). We kayaked, fished, hiked, and went spotting for forest animals in the early evening. We saw over 100 deer the first night and on following nights, a fox, an eagle, otters and snakes. We did not see any bear but I was certain they were there watching us looking for them. The area surrounding Cooks Forest and the Alleghany Forest is so beautiful this time of year and we are so blessed to have this available so close to home. There is unspoiled nature that is protected for our and future generations to enjoy. There are numerous no hunting areas as well as protected lands for deer, bear and Elk. There is a community called Benezette, where there is the largest population of Elk in the North Eastern United States. It was awesome seeing these magnificent animals in the “wild”.
The Torah reminds us that as a basic rule of Jewish ethics is the emulation of God’s ways. In the words of the Talmud, “Just as God is merciful, so shall you be merciful” (Tractate Sotah 14a). Therefore, compassion for all creatures is not only God’s business; it is everyone’s.
When God created the world, so the Bible tells us, God made order out of primal chaos. The sun, the moon, and the stars, plants, animals and ultimately man, were each created with a rightful and necessary place in the universe. They were not to encroach on each other. That is why we must continue our efforts to ensure we are pro-active on environmental issues. To save the sacred from a few who want to gain economically from ravaging our beautiful lands.
It was a peaceful and serene week and I believe we all felt we were closer to God. Just as the land and the animals are preserved for future generations, so shall our new Temple be a place for peace, serenity and a sacred space for our children and future generations of Jews in Erie.