This message is a hard one to articulate well. I received a call from someone who was asked a question while at Netivot Shalom. That is not surprising. We love questions!
But Jewish tradition celebrates the exploration of what motivates questions as well. (For instance, see the well known Torah study book: "What's Bothering Rashi?") So what prompted this shul-wide message is what surrounds the question.
I formatted my thoughts in a video I encourage you to watch. I'm not sure it came out right. I'm a white man. I'm not typically aware of that. Yes, as a Jew, I know what it means to be marginalized. But this is different. If I were black, then... ...actually, I can't even complete that sentence, because I don't have any notion of what it is to be black. In this case my best role, I believe, is to make sure we hear the question that was brought to me.
(Between recording the video on Facebook and completing this message, I've now heard from a dozen shul leaders around the country that they have similar stories. We aren't alone, and the challenge is larger than one shul's.)
Click the graphic above or right here for the rest of this message.
May we listen well to each other, and learn from our mistakes.
I had a beautiful day today. I stood with my sister, a passionate rabbi serving the U.S. Navy as a chaplain, at the World War II Memorial in Washington D.C. We remembered our grandfather of blessed memory, who fought for America and shared hard-earned wisdom with his children and grandchildren.
I looked to my right and saw the Washington Monument. Looked to my left at the Lincoln Memorial. I read quotes engraved on massive stones. And I felt, to my core, one sad feeling: too much war.
Too. Much. War.
The quotes and certain retellings of history would have me believe that we fought for pure purposes: we fought for religious freedom, we fought to end slavery, we fought for freedom for all humanity, we fought to end tyranny. But it's also true that we fought (and fight) for economic interests. It&…