Birth and Death

by Rabbi Alvin I. Fine

Rabbi Fine led San Francisco's reform Temple Emanu-El for 16 years during the post-World War II era. A humanitarian and ardent advocate for civil rights Rabbi Fine was also a charter member of the city's Human Rights Commission. Rabbi Alvin I. Fine was born in Portland, Oregon (October 25, 1916), and served San Francisco’s Congregation Emanu-El for sixteen years (1948-1964). Prior to this, he had served as the assistant to the president of Hebrew Union College, in Cincinnati, and as a military chaplain in Shanghai, China during World War Two. After leaving Emanu-El, he became a Professor of Humanities at San Francisco State University (1965-1980). In addition to this, he served on the board of the American Civil Liberties Union; the Council of Civic Unity; the American Jewish Congress; the Human Rights Commission; and the Clergymen’s Advisory Council of the Planned Parenthood Association of San Francisco. He died on January 19, 1999.

Birth is a beginning
and death a destination
And life is a journey:
From childhood to maturity
and youth to age;
From innocence to awareness
and ignorance to knowing;
From foolishness to desecration
and then perhaps to wisdom.
From weakness to strength or
from strength to weakness
and often back again;
From health to sickness
and we pray to health again.
From offense to forgiveness
from loneliness to love
from joy to gratitude
from pain to compassion
from grief to understanding
from fear to faith.
From defeat to defeat to defeat
until looking backwards or ahead
We see that victory lies not
at some high point along the way
but in having made the journey
step by step
a sacred pilgrimage.
Birth is a beginning
and death a destination
And life is a journey;
A sacred journey to life everlasting

Photo By ALexis Lund

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