We’re back from Israel. As I returned, I was hoping for a quiet week to readjust and acclimate to being back…that was not to be. It’s busy here and so much is going on in our world! As I write this, the funeral of Pastor and State Senator Rev. Clementa Pinckney is taking place at the AME Church in Charleston. And, as I write this, I have just finished reading the news about our Supreme Court affirming the rights of same sex partners.
These events may seem disparate. But I believe there is something in common in these events and others happening around the world. Perhaps I am over simplifying, but I would suggest a religious category be placed on our thinking about this. It’s a category that our rabbis of long ago considered seriously. And it’s a category that comes from the Torah. It’s about the way that human beings treat others who are defined as different. In the Torah it may be about the “ger,” the stranger, but it is expanded to include all who are not the same as those in power.
In our world, we have seen extraordinary damage and terror reigned upon those who believe differently. We have seen the oppression of those who look different. We have witnessed the persecution of those who believe differently. Gender bias continues to be a plague. And the inability to have a lens on the world wide enough to show that your way is not the only way, your desires are not the desires of all, your perceptions are not shared by everyone, has lead to horrible violence, hatred and oppression.
But sometimes a little light emerges. Sometimes the ”arc of justice” bends towards a brighter future. The steps may be slow, but awareness grows.
Come together this Shabbat. Come here and sing and worship with a song of gratitude and kindness. We need this. We will welcome Cantor Boaz Davidoff and we will be treated to music that moves our spirits.
See you in shul.
Rabbi David Steinhardt
This column is dedicated to the memory of Rubin Shafran z”l