Rabbi’s Message – January 12, 2021
This coming weekend we will honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his efforts in the Civil Rights movement. We come to this MLK weekend and Shabbat Tzedek, our Justice Shabbat, after many challenges to human dignity and rights have manifested since this time last year. For me, the call to continue the work of Dr. King has never been stronger to bring peace and unity to our country. Jewish tradition has long stood to protect the rights of the vulnerable among us.
With Parashat Va-eira, we are at the beginning of our retelling of the Exodus story, and therefore also the numerous reminders in the Torah to protect the orphans, widows, and poor among us because we were slaves in Egypt and know their plight. These portions of the population were the most vulnerable in their time and we hear these verses today to protect not just these groups, but others that are most vulnerable in society.
At Rosh Hashanah, I preached that we must, during this pandemic, remember that we are all in the same storm of the current situation, but we are not all in the same boats. Some boats are better able to withstand the storm than others. There are many storms around us, and just because my boat is doing well, does not mean that I don’t have a duty to help others weather the storm as well. We are now deeper into the pandemic experience than we were when I spoke those words. We have seen more acts of racial injustice, actions that endanger the health of others amid the pandemic, and many others. I sit at my desk, in my warm house, safe from the cold weather, safe from COVID exposure, with the privilege of white skins, food security, financial security, and the support of family. It would be all too easy to tune out from the news and carry on with my family of five here.
As we join together with our friends from Omega Baptist Church this weekend, even though we cannot physical sit side by side, it is more important than ever to strengthen our connections with one another and to be each other’s support as we weather the storms of 2021 together. Please join me on Friday night at 6:30 p.m., via our special Zoom link, as we worship together and hear the sage words of Pastor Joshua Ward, and again on Sunday morning at 10:15 a.m. for the live-streamed worship at Omega, with a sermon delivered by our own Rabbi Bodney-Halasz.