Victoria’s Diary: Reflections

Rabbi Marc Schneier and Father Constantine will be doing a column together for Dan’s Papers. Going us at the planning meeting was John Catsimatidis, Father Alex Karloutsos, Dr. Peter Michalo and Margo Catsimatidis.

Through Dan’s Papers, our new media in the Hamptons, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and falling in love with Father Alex Karloutsos and Father Constantine from the Dormition of the Virgin Mary Greek Orthodox Church of The Hamptons in Southampton.

They agreed to write a new column in Dan’s Papers called “Hampton’s Soul: Common Faith, Common Fate” with the words of Rabbi Marc Schneier and Father Constantine. Both will be writing a column similar to the one that Father Tom Hartman and Rabbi Marc Gellman wrote called “The God Squad.”

Father Alex, the Vicar General and Director of Public Affairs, has been the force behind building the stunning hilltop church in Southampton and now, he’s using his efforts to rebuild the Greek Orthodox Church that had been destroyed in the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center.

He invited me for a tour of his massive church complex. We shared time talking and touring. He is a remarkable man with his finger on the pulse of the community he serves. 

Father Alex in the main sanctuary in his church.

It touched my heart when I got a message from him about Yom Kippur, often called the Day of Atonement. On this day, Jews ask God for forgiveness for their sins and ask to secure their fate in the Book of Life.

He shared with me his profound memory of his first experience with a Jew celebrating the High Holidays. It just so happens it was Sandy Koufax, one of his heroes. I wanted to share his memories of learning about Yom Kippur.

Enjoy his reflections.

“Ever since Sandy Koufax refused to pitch on the Holy Day of Yom Kippur, this day in the Jewish Calendar has always moved me deeply … to my core in fact. Repentance, forgiveness, love and an at-one-ment with God, neighbor and self.”

“I was a young boy in Bayard, Nebraska, when Sandy played against my Yankees. Never met a Jewish believer at that time and never ever heard about the Great Fastday and Feastday of Yom Kippur. Thank you for your friendship, love and support throughout this past year.

Father Alex shared a powerful message that I wanted to share with you. 

Reflections on life

“Each year we wonder, ‘Who will live and who will die?’ We know that the question is genuine, but this year it feels more urgent than it has in my lifetime.

“By most measures human life has grown better, more prosperous and longer. Hunger and disease — the pandemic obviously aside — have declined. These processes are gradual, and don’t make the morning paper. Humanity as a whole lives in a more comfortable and kinder world than ever before.

The blowing of the shofars is my favorite part of the service.

“Nonetheless there is so much that looms as danger. Amidst the pandemic, the fires, the social unrest, random outbursts of violence and so much more, we identify with the anxiety of our ancestors. On a deep level each of us must feel that we are so small and the forces that determine much of our lives so great.

“That humility and recognition are the spirit of Yom Kippur. Before you, God, all of our gifts we are as passing shadows. We try our best and fail. We are grateful for Your gifts but too often squander them. Help us be better; help us grow; grant us another year of life to refashion our souls and reach beyond our limitations, and reach toward You.”

— Rabbi David Wolpe, Sinai Temple, Los Angeles, CA

My Hero

I said goodbye to my favorite singer. I just read this morning that Helen Reddy whose pop song “I Am Woman” was my inspiration from the moment I heard it in 1972.

Singer Helen Reddy

It became the anthem for me during dark times of my life. The lyrics “I am strong, I am invincible, I am woman,” helped launch a movement for women’s rights.

Rest in peace, Helen Reddy. You gave us a gift of music that will last through time.

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