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Rabbi's Week In Review - 7/19/2021

07/19/2021 03:21:54 PM

Jul19

As summer weeks go, this past one was unusually busy. A meeting with the Missouri Voter Protection Coalition was the start toward organizing the “Good Trouble Vigil” to honor the memory of civil rights leader John Lewis. In between that meeting and the actual vigil was a presentation on Judaism and social justice for the Faith Club, a group of Muslim, Jewish and Christian women, who came together a few years ago to learn and support one another.

After the vigil, we observed Tisha B’Av, a particularly sad day on the Jewish calendar, with study and reading and chanting from Eichah, the Book of Lamentations. Our Tisha B’Av observance continued with a community-wide program sponsored by the Rabbinical Association on Substance Use Disorder. Kol Ami’s own Sarah Link Ferguson moderated the panel discussion, and, proud father that I am, my eldest son Solomon shared his story of substance use and recovery.

What I see as the common thread in all of these events is that they serve as a beginning. The Faith Club is a beginning step in a journey toward understanding and hearing stories of the “other” — of people not necessarily like us.

The vigil is a first step toward establishing full voting rights for African-Americans and all Americans. Preserving voting rights is essential to giving everyone in our country a voice in our country’s future and preserving our democracy.

The important and powerful program on substance use disorder is a much needed beginning of understanding that substance use disorder is a reality in our Jewish community, that it is a disease and not some kind of character flaw, and that we will save lives by addressing it openly and with compassion.

We see our present observance of Tisha B’Av as a time of sadness and despair. We focus our thoughts on the many times in our Jewish history when we have faced persecution and tragedy. However, our great Sages understood that there will come a time when justice will prevail throughout the world. At that time, the tears of sadness we experience on Tisha B’Av will be transformed into a holiday of rejoicing. These first steps toward a more just and compassionate world lead us toward that day.

Fri, July 30 2021 21 Av 5781