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Rabbi's Week in Review - 8/28/2023

08/28/2023 05:27:30 PM


A cohort of national multifaith leaders, put together by Faith in Action, attended a conference in Kansas City last week. (I’m not sure why they chose KC.) As a member of the Faith in Action Clergy Organizers Advisory Board, I was made aware of the conference, and Fay and I hosted a dinner for the cohort at our home. During the dinner, I conducted a panel discussion on the intersection of justice work and multifaith relationship. I was thrilled to share the panel with our friends the Rev. Donna Simon from St. Mark Hope and Peace and the Rev. Dr. Rodney Williams from Swope Parkway United Christian Church.

I am grateful to Faith in Action and Hajj Reza Nekumanesh for seeking to be more intentional about being a truly multifaith organization. Amongst the many organizations in which I am involved, this is the one sincere effort to be intentional about being more inclusive when it comes to seeking out a wide spectrum of religious backgrounds and religious thought.

I have a couple of takeaways from this very special evening. First, that we in Kansas City’s clergy organizing community are doing a pretty good job of being multifaith. I have said before that my Jewish perspective and Jewish values have always been welcomed in spaces where I am very much in the minority. This is attributable to the emphasis placed on meeting people, one-on-one, whom we have not previously known. Trust on a personal level is essential in order to make progress in seeking a more just world. To know the other is to connect on shared values of family, compassion for others, and a recognition that diversity is a strength in our community and not something to be feared.

My other takeaway is that creating community in a space with a multitude of views and life experiences is difficult work. While not getting into specifics, it was clear that the Faith in Action multifaith cohort had engaged in difficult conversations, and had worked through a good deal of tension and stress. The expectation is that more difficult moments would be ahead.

The difficult truth is that no progress is ever made without tension and a willingness to confront difficult issues. Often in our Jewish community, one such issue concerns Palestinian rights. This overall reality regarding the need to be uncomfortable informs our preparation for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. During this month of Elul leading up to Rosh Hashanah, we engage in the difficult and often stressful process of Cheshbon HaNefesh — an accounting of our souls and how we put ourselves on a path to do better.  

In the coming year of 5784, we commit ourselves to a path of self-improvement and a path toward creating a better world. There are many problems to address as we approach a crucial election period in 2024. Let us not avoid or be fearful of the tense and the uncomfortable. Let that be a springboard toward positive action leading to justice.

Fri, September 22 2023 7 Tishrei 5784