I love Savannah, Georgia! This charming city in the Old South is graced with antebellum mansions, glorious Victorian homes, splendid monuments, and 22 parklike squares. It is one of the largest National Historic Landmark Districts in the United States. One of my favorite places to visit in Savannah is Temple Mickve Israel, one of the oldest synagogues in the United States. The current synagogue, located on Monterey Square in historic Savannah is a rare example of a Gothic-style synagogue. Monterey Square, with its stately live oaks draped with Spanish moss, is widely considered to be the most picturesque of Savannah’s squares. For me, there is an ethos of peace and tranquility that envelops the Square and Temple.
On a visit to the synagogue, I ventured into the gift shop. The print on various articles of clothing caught my attention. I noticed the Hebrew word שָׁלוֹם and then beneath it was written in English, ‘Shalom Y’all’. I thought, “What a beautiful blending of two cultures which I revere.” The Jewish greeting ‘Shalom’ carries the broad meaning of peace, wholeness, health, safety, and prosperity. ‘Y’all’ is a casual southern hospitable phrase for addressing two or more people.
In the age in which we live, there seems to be little peace in general and likewise little hospitable inclusion of those outside our own circles. I have determined that as I move forward, I will be a ‘Shalom Y’all’ person. I want to speak peace and blessing to those with whom I have contact. I also want to be inclusive and hospitable to more than just those closest to me.
I’ve had a chance to ‘field test’ the Shalom Y’all approach with a person. I took a friend to a pet store to get supplies for her cat. We were in a checkout line, and the clerk was having difficulty with her computer. She was frustrated and apologized for the delay. She looked exhausted, so I said, “You look very weary, I wish I could help.” She began to sob as tears streamed down her cheeks. She told me she had cancer. Her chemo treatments were draining her energy and leaving her nauseated, but she had to work to pay her bills. I asked her if I could say a quick prayer for her. She nodded, and I offered a brief petition. Through her tears, she expressed her deep appreciation. I glanced back at the line behind me. Many had bowed their heads, some were shedding tears, and others gently clapped their hands. No one appeared to be impatient. Several expressions of kindness followed as people moved through line of clerk who now had a smiling face wet with tears. I think all of us there experienced a little Shalom that day.
~ Brother Roy