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Rabbi's Week In Review- August 4, 2020

08/03/2020 06:24:41 PM


Last Wednesday night and Thursday, we observed the most solemn day of the Jewish calendar — Tisha B’Av, the ninth day of the month of Av. We remember the destruction of the first and second Temples, and other Churban — other times of persecution befalling our people.  

Most prominent among the themes and messages of Tisha B’Av is exile. Living in exile is to live away from home, or without a home. There are differences within the Jewish community as to the present-day relevance of Tisha B’Av vis-à-vis the establishment of Israel as the Jewish homeland.

Last week, Kol Ami observed Tisha B’Av at our Thursday-morning Zoom service with study and prayer appropriate to the day. But on that day, we wanted to do more. In connecting to our history of being in exile, we recognized others who live in exile.  

In the morning, KC Tenants held a rally to extend the moratorium on evictions. People who are without income due to the pandemic are facing a crisis of being evicted from their rental homes, or are unable to pay their mortgage. Ultimately, our city and our country are looking at an impending crisis of homelessness. In conjunction with the rally, members of KC Tenants shut down the eviction process for at least that day, vowing and hoping to do more.

On Tisha B’Av afternoon, T’ruah, the rabbinic call for human rights, and HIAS, the Jewish organization that fights for the rights of immigrants and asylum seekers, held a virtual vigil to spur action on behalf of asylum seekers. There are literally millions of people throughout the world living in exile, and thousands of those people are living in dire conditions just on the other side of our U.S. border. They are victims of a change in U.S. policy on asylum that is illegal and cruel. They are refugees, either separated from their homelands by war or forced to flee their homelands due to threats of violence and persecution.

Much as we draw on our experience as slaves in Egypt to fight on behalf of those who are still enslaved, our long history of living as exiles compels us to act on behalf of those who presently live in exile — here in Kansas City, on our U.S. borders or anywhere in the world.   In so doing, we draw on our sense of empathy and live out our highest and most important Jewish values.

Wed, September 23 2020 5 Tishrei 5781