I write this (on my phone) from Miami International Airport, where I haven’t been since I picked up an Israeli cantor many years ago. I’m on the first leg of a trip to Guatemala as part of a year long Rabbinic Global Justice Fellowship with the American Jewish World Service (AJWS – www.ajws.org). Over the past year a cohort of about a dozen rabbis have been studying, meeting, advocating, and preparing together – the trip is the culmination of the fellowship.
I applied for the program because I had not previously interacted much with the broader world (outside of Israel). I also wanted to learn much more about how the American Jewish community reaches out beyond its own borders to help in some way in some of the poorest and most politically oppressed places in the developing world. As Jews we have so much responsibility to our fellow Jews and to our local community, country, and Israel that it can be a lifetime of work to meet those obligations. But to those core commitments we have to add an awareness of and a willingness to try to help any child of God, created as we believe in God’s image, anywhere they may be. There have been ‘days and ages’ where it was more or less impossible to meaningfully express Jewish commitment to our global community. Today is not such an era. In an interconnected world we simply cannot turn a blind eye to circumstances we would not wish for our own families, and so the call goes out to learn more about and to do something to activate this Jewish value. One trip is not a sufficient expression – I know that ultimately this is a very small thing that cost me nothing more than a few days of vacation that would otherwise have been spent with family on a beach. But I am hopeful to be inspired to develop and maintain a perspective that will continue to inform my work as a rabbi and my life as a Jew. I’ll use this forum to stay in touch, wireless-network permitting! Next stop Guatemala City. Shalom u’l’hitraot!
(I’ll also be tweeting – @Rabbi523)