The recent Time Magazine cover story “How faith can heal,” trumpeted the value of faith in the healing process. This may not be “news” to many of us, but it seems to have been for the editors of Time. The main article in the magazine covered the rise of scientific studies on the value of prayer in healing. Also, the piece mentioned the value of people joining a church or synagogue in promoting longevity. A longitudinal study of 1500 people, began in 1997 by Neal Krause at the University of Michigan, looked at how church goers fared dealing with stresses of health and economic issues. People benefited from the relationship support that membership in a faith community provided. “He also found that people who maintain a sense of gratitude for what’s going right in their lives have a reduced incidence of depression, which is itself a predictor of health.” Krause’s research also concluded that “people who believe their lives have meaning live longer than people who don’t.” The importance of community and the power of the relationships that are developed within that community are the key to much of our perceptions of self, our maintenance of health and attitude and the real reason why we create synagogues and stay members. Such communities give us a place to tell our stories.
In the Resources section this month we call your attention to a new “community” that celebrates your stories. Check out the information on the Jewish Writing Project and think about sending in a sample of your story. One of the benefits of being able to travel to so many congregations as I do, is that you are given the opportunity to hear so many powerful stories. Increasingly, as we all age, we are more aware of the power of each of our own stories and the legacy that we can leave for others, as others have left theirs for us.
Also, please check out the sampling of workshops and programs that are available to your congregation and organization as you begin to look at the implications of the longevity revolution. We welcome your interest.
Shalom, and have a sweet, healthy and happy Purim.
Rabbi Richard F. Address, D.Min