Doing what needs to be done

"We are consistently finding things to do rather than doing things that need to be done."

- Jeffrey Benoit, Community Activist

(On the bus to begin walking for Journey for Justice, from Selma, Alabama, to Washington DC, Wednesday morning, August 26, 2015)

There really is no "us and them", there is only one human family.

A spectator asked if we marched for "black power". Someone responded, "We march for all of our power".

These two ideas echoed in my mind during the 16 miles we walked on Wednesday's leg of the Journey for Justice in South Carolina.

We aimed to fulfill a physical promise of togetherness. We have so many miles to go, on the ground and in our hearts and minds, and when we undertake some of them together, when we share journeys and stories, we more easily remember the fundamental fabric into which we are all woven as Americans and humans.

We just entered this season of reflection - the month before Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur - let us take note of things of real importance. Let us look at what needs to be done and begin the task together. Walk a few miles with someone and hear their story, especially if it is new to us and significantly different from our own. Overcome the discomfort of reaching out to someone new. And then ask one another what we can do to make the year to come one blessed with more justice and fairness for everyone.

May this Elul, the month before the High Holy Days, help us find the strength to overcome barriers and the patience to listen when we do.

 

Bloody Sunday Commemoration

I was honored to join a great group of people of all faiths to commemorate the events of March 1965 - the march from Selma to Montgomery that helped raise the awareness needed to pass the Voting Rights Act. Here were my words:

As people of faith, we share a tradition of protest and change, and faith in humanity to eventually embrace justice. Even in the Wilderness of Sinai, the Israelites brought forward their protests about unfairness in the system established by God.
 
In the Book of Numbers, the Daughters of Tzlofachad protested that they would not inherit according to the system laid out by God through Moses. Moses brought their protest to God, who in turn changed the law to allow daughters to inherit. Later on, others in Tzlofachad’s tribe pointed out that should these daughters inherit, and marry outside of the tribe, that the inherited lands would end up outside of the tribe as well. Moses again went to God, who again amended the law to make it more just.
 
Many of us share a tradition of protest that challenges injustice. When we imagine even the divine rewriting the rules of society to make them fairer, we understand that we must always rise up against violations of justice wherever we find them. It is upon us to bring concerns of justice to all authorities – even the highest laws must adhere to the highest standards.
 
We stand together here today, in commemoration of those who placed fairness over even their personal safety. In this Passover season of re-commitment to freedom, in this spring season of renewal, may we also renew our commitments to continue to pursue fairness and justice for everyone.