Here’s why you should join the official launch of the New Jersey Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism on Thursday, August 6th at 7:30 pm: https://RAC.org/NJKickoff
Like the list of plagues we recite at the Passover Seder, (Blood, Frogs, Lice, Wild Beasts and the rest), the Summer of 2020 reads a little like the Haggadah: Covid, Heatwave, Mold, Anxiety, and, of course, the Plague of Uncertainty. We are living, it seems, in a Groundhog Day of ever-present stress, of minimizing our risk while trying to have a life, to making a living, to simply being in the world.
As evidenced in our national life, plagues do not bring out the best in people. In 1349, based on the rumor that the Jews caused the Black Death by poisoning drinking water wells, 2,000 Jews were murdered in the well-organized Valentine’s Day Massacre of Strasbourg, Germany. There were similar killing sprees in about 350 European towns and villages. We are not strangers to scapegoating as a political tactic to gain power or simply to distract. Tragically, we Jews know the past too well; and when it comes to exploiting fear in the name of gain we are history’s tragic savants.
There is a straight line from Europe’s catastrophic 14th century pogroms, from Jew-hatred mobilized to divert attention, to a Zoom call taking place on Thursday, August 6th at 7:30 pm. In today’s America, in today’s New Jersey, it is both a religious and historical imperative for Jews to focus on voting rights, racial justice, our environment … the list is so long. Your 36-year partnership with Rabbi Don Weber built a TRT with social justice in your DNA. Without exaggeration, TRT’s voice is mighty, and your deeds and words have long harmonized.
As you already know, being a good Reform Jew means attending to the vulnerable. Along with Brion Feinberg, so many of you are bringing this core value to life with the founding of the New Jersey Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. From racial justice to the pandemic response to voting rights to our precious environment, this moment has a voice. All that is sacred in our tradition and Elie Wiesel’s 11th Commandment, to – “never be silent wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation” – coalesce into action, into deeds, into showing up.
And on a different note … as soon as we found out about a serious mold problem in our sanctuary, we immediately moved our two Torah scrolls into the homes of our congregants, Marc and Shelley Willner and Geri and Michael Kaplan. Close inspection thankfully revealed healthy scrolls, sans mold! Thank you to the Willners and the Kaplans for being our Shomrei Torah, our Guardians of the Torah!
Rabbi Marc L. Disick