As you likely already know, I was arrested two nights ago in New York City as part of an act of civil disobediencewith 18 other rabbis. We joined with hundreds of other rabbis, Jews, and others to protest President Donald Trump's refugee ban. I am still processing the experience, and am profoundly moved by the responses I've received from many of you. (I've pasted at the end of this email a reflection I wrote an hour after being released from jail.)
I'll be sharing my reflections on this experiences as the drasha this Shabbat. (Rabbi Sarah Shulman, Director of Camp Ramah in Northern California, graciously offered to deliver the introduction to the Torah reading in my place, freeing me to offer the drash.) I had the opportunity to share with our Preschool students and with the Wednesday Afternoon Torah Study group some thoughts, and will share some time with our Amitim and Madrichim students this Shabbat afternoon, discussing the role of Tzedek (Social Justice) within a Bat/Bar Mitzvah journey.
I'm writing to keep you all informed, to let you know I'm well, and to thank you for being the kind of community that sees the work of a Jew in the world holistically, both tending to the inner needs of our community and helping perfect the world through Jewish learning, being, and doing (letaken Olam bemalchut shaddai, as we say in the Aleinu: to fix the world by spreading sanctity - this is the root of the phrase Tikkun Olam.)
For a few articles about the protest and the arrests of the 19 rabbis, click here.
For more information about this Sunday's National Day of Jewish Action for Refugees, click here.
With much love, and deep gratitude for our shul's deep commitment to Justice,
A Reflection Upon Being Released from Jail
Rabbi Menachem Creditor
Tuesday, Feb 7, 2017 (1:30am)
Praise to the Holy One for my freedom.
I was arrested tonight in New York, along with 18 other holy brothers and sisters, standing, marching, singing, praying, and raging at the hate and injustice being launched by the President toward immigrants, toward Muslims - toward vulnerable 'others' - being created and encoded in American law, media, and culture. We sat, blocking traffic, in front of Trump Tower. We sat, arm in arm, davening and singing. We walked together, singing songs of Love and Freedom (including my soul's song Olam Chesed, sung by hundreds as I walked the very blocks upon which I carried my newborn daughter as I composed the song for her).
We spent some of the night in jail. I was released 30 minutes ago. The Rabbis with whom I spent tonight in jail are my sisters and brothers. We davened, sang, spoke, joked, and learned. I will need time to process this, but I am humbled to have been part of this holy act of #JewishResistance.
Tonight was the most Rabbis arrested in one action in US history. And, all the while, even as I was handcuffed and processed, even as the NYPD treated us with respect, I know the fight has barely begun for the soul of our nation.
I invite you to join this movement. This is what Judaism looks like: marching for justice. This is what payer looks like: putting your body where your words are. This is what Torah looks like: righteous people doing good.
ברוך מתיר אסורים / Blessed is the one who frees the bound.
More tomorrow perhaps. In this late moment, reeling from a surreal experience of moral courage, a short time in jail, and the real sense of 19 rabbis who sang and danced together outside the police precinct at 1:30am, I'm more aware of the work ahead than ever before. And the need for rest.
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&…