Chaverim Yekarim,

My wife, Sam’s, favorite genre of music is country music, and so whenever she uses my car, the radio is invariably tuned to a country station. Far from my own preferred music, I have grown to appreciate the profound simplicity of the lyrics, along with the human interest stories the stations often highlight. A few days ago, one such story focused on country music singer John Fogerty.

Scheduled to play at a cancelled Woodstock 50 concert, he used his payment to donate a home to a veteran. It turns out he’s not the only country star to use his fame and his wealth not just to be a mensch, but also to support some of the most worthy individuals of our nation. Tim McGraw has already given six mortgage-free homes to US veterans this year with plans to give more before his tour ends this fall.

This coming Monday (November 11th) we celebrate America’s veterans, and all those who have selflessly served this great nation. In the words of one of the hosts of the above-mentioned radio station, ”We don’t know them all, But we owe them all.” As this Shabbat coincides with the commemoration of that awful event known as kristalnacht, we stand acutely aware of the necessity of our soldiers defending freedom and human dignity. Without them, we know the darkness that would penetrate this world.

Beth Shalom’s newly revamped Tikkun Olam Committee has expressed interest and excitement in supporting our veterans through a non-profit called Mission 22. It is an organization dedicated to helping American veterans who suffer from PTSD, and to lower the number of our veterans who commit suicide each day (22!) Many of those veterans heeded the call to undertake a journey far from home. We need to support them when they get back.

This Shabbat, we read another type of journey, that of our People’s patriarch Abraham in Lech Lecha. In this epic journey, he too answered a call and selflessly left his home to enter a new land and face all the dangers that entailed. It was a decision that laid the foundation for the Jewish People and our thousands-year old survival story of adapting and thriving.

As Jews, we know a lot about journeys. And as proud citizens of the greatest ever Jewish Diaspora, we must honor and celebrate those who make that freedom possible.

On this Veterans Day, and every day, we salute them.

Shabbat Shalom, and Geaux Tigers,

Rabbi Natan