CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA, May 27, 2012 — Three weeks ago many Americans celebrated the Kentucky Derby-Cinco De Mayo-Jewish Sabbath. Once again, cultures collide in a cornocopia of meaningful entertainment.

On Monday, May 28, 2012, America honors its fallen military heroes. Memorial Day is a sober reminder of the price of freedom. To the families of those heroes, may God shine his light on you always.

Sunday is a day to honor sports heroes, and yet also a day for quiet, thoughtful reflection, learning and prayer.

The Jews are celebrating Shavuos (Shavuot), the day God gave his Hebrew children the Torah (Old Testament). The ritual for Jewish people is to stay up the night before and engage in an all night learning session. People gather at the Synagogues between dusk and Midnight and study Jewish texts until the sun rises.

On this same Sunday Christians are also celebrating an important day. For them today is the Pentecost. That is the day God gave his Christian children the Holy Spirit.

Normally the Jews attend services on Friday night and Saturdays, while the Christians have Sundays as their Sabbath. Yet with the Pentecost and Shavuos arriving on the same day, both religions fill churches and synagogues on this holy Sunday.

For those who do not know, nothing best exemplifies the Jewish people like athletics. (Just go with it.)

Whether one is Jewish, Christian, or another faith, this Sunday is dedicated to those who love fast cars, high speeds, and the state of North Carolina. From Charlotte, today brings the Coca-Cola 600.

Some will point out that the Indianapolis 500 also takes place on this day, but Indy car racing is yesterday’s news. Al Unser Jr. won a thrilling finish awhile back, but he and the other Indy greats have been left in the dust by NASCAR. Once Danica Patrick switched over to the stock car circuit, the NASCAR dominance was complete.

While NASCAR is a religion in North Carolina, a recent experience of mine showed how deeply connected religion and racing had become.

While driving at very high (yet legal in case any sheriffs ask) speeds, I found myself lost in Charlotte. Like Jerry Reed, it seems like I had spent days lost on a cloverleaf.  My friend  in the passenger seat was uneasy when I suggested that we stop in the local church for directions. He was reminded that being Jewish does not deny one the right to seek guidance about which road to travel.

The preacher told us to find Reverend Billy Graham. My friend, who could use a little more tolerance and patience in life, told the preacher to stop prosletyzing. Why are Christians a bunch of bible thumpers always trying to convert the Jews? A lesson in humility was delivered to my friend when the preacher looked at him and said, “Young man, this isn’t about your faith or mine. Billy Graham is the highway.”

After thanking the preacher and apologizing for my traveling passenger, the advice was correct. Whether Jewish or Christian, in Charlotte,  Billy Graham does lead one down the proper destination.

Yet on this Sunday it is another great man with a highway named after him that is the focus of attention. The late, very great Dale Earnhardt left a legacy that may never be matched again. Dale Jr. has not won a race in some time, yet strong finishes this year have him in striking distance of a championship. The Intimidator and his mustache are smiling up in heaven sitting in a recliner with a beverage (probably Coca-Cola on this day). Many racing fans still hold up three fingers to honor him.

Some would argue that close is not good enough. As Will Ferrell reminded us in the Ballad of Ricky Bobby, “If you’re not first, you’re last.” Yet on this Sunday, like in life, racing positions will switch and fates will be altered in the blink of an eye.

We can spend our lives focusing on our differences or we can come to the conclusion that when all is said and done, most of us truly are the same.

Whether one celebrates with milk in Indianapolis or Coca-Cola in Charlotte…whether one is celebrating Shavuos or Pentecost…whether one is paying homage to Billy Graham, Dale Earnhart, or the unknown soldier…this weekend is a day to celebrate the best of the human spirit. Even Pepsi drinkers should be respected, although on Coca-Cola 600 day they should be respectful and drink their soda quietly.

God bless our troops, and gentlemen, start your engines.

Happy Shavuo Pentecost Coca-Cola 600 Memorial Day Weekend.

Shalom, Y’all!


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Source : Happy Shavuos, Pentecost, Coca-Cola 600, Memorial Weekend – Washington Times

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