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Rabbi's Week in Review - 2/13/2023

02/13/2023 05:46:02 PM


Given how I choose to spend my volunteer time, it would be disingenuous for me to suggest that how I interpret our Jewish values and how I choose to live those values are somehow apolitical. Yet I am drawing on two examples of issues that have become politicized but really do not have to be so.

Last week we came together to celebrate Tu B’Shevat, the 15th day of the Jewish month of Shevat, most often referred to as the birthday of the trees (really, tax day for the trees). Our Tu B’Shevat seder was a vehicle to support and honor the work of Migrant Farmworkers Assistance Fund, and the work of Suzanne Gladney and Alan Lubert.

All who participated agreed that the evening was a rousing success, a meaningful experience that touched us all deeply. Among the reasons to feel really good about the evening for me was that it was not politicized.  Notwithstanding that issues of migrants and issues of immigration have become so politicized these days, the Kol Ami family came together to see the great humanity, work ethic and commitment to values, such as family, in a courageous and proud group of migrant farmworkers. My sense is that we can see some of our own history and our own ancestry in the struggles and trajectory of migrant farmworkers.

This coming Shabbat has been declared Repro Shabbat by the National Council of Jewish Women. It is a time to focus on reproductive rights. Yes, there are some very political aspects to the issues surrounding abortion and reproductive rights, and, yes, I am deeply involved in those issues.

Yet this coming Shabbat, we will take a look at what halakhah, Jewish law, has to say about abortion. My hope is that everyone who participates in our Shabbat study will access the information to make their own decisions regarding this very contentious issue.

With all the passion, politicizing and vitriol surrounding so many issues, we (and I include me in the we) need to take a step back and actually study the issues involved.  Especially as Jews imbued with the responsibility to engage in Machloket L’Shem Shamayim, argument for the sake of heaven, we are compelled to never stop seeking greater knowledge with which to make crucial decisions that guide our lives, and impact the lives of everyone with whom we share this country and our world.

Tue, March 21 2023 28 Adar 5783