The Value of a Human Life

If we take a few minutes to meditate on all the things it takes to describe a human being, we would realize, very quickly, how overwhelming such a task would be. First consider the complexity of all our physical attributes: veins, bones, sinews, skin, vital organs, and our circulatory, digestive, respiratory, and reproductive systems. Next think about the brain, our rational-emotional intelligence, and the very state of being conscious. Trying to come to grips with it all is practically super-human.

No wonder, in describing the Creation of the World, the Book of Genesis describes the Divine creation of the human being as “in the image of God He created them…” (b’tzelem Elokim)

Apart from finding a metaphor to describe the amazing potential within every human life, the Bible is also suggesting that we treat human life as sacred. Essentially, destroying a single life is, in fact, desecrating the Divine Image.

The Rabbis also point out that God created a Adam and Eve to originate the human race in order to teach us, “One who destroys a single life destroys an entire world; and one who saves a single life has saved an entire world!” We could also add that, ultimately, we are all a great human family – no matter our culture, the color of our skin, and social origins.

With all this in mind, we are stricken by the current spate of mass shootings which have become all too common. At this point in time, there are individuals who have had to survive more than one of these incidents. Who can begin to imagine the sheer horror of having oneself or ones family face such unspeakable danger?

As you may be aware, the Fast of Av occurs this coming Saturday night and extends through Sunday. While the immediate reason for this observance may link to the Destruction of the Two Temples (the first by the Babylonians in 586 BCE and the second by the Romans in the year 70), they allow us to give expression to acknowledge the hatred and violence perpetrated against many vulnerable individuals today. In mourning the destruction of these “Houses of the Divine,” we can link in solidarity to all those who have suffered persecution in the past and today.

We are all familiar with the tremendous challenges faced by today’s immigrant community: the unspeakable methods used to incarcerate human beings under subhuman conditions and to separate young children from their families, many without hope of being reunited! As part of this Saturday evening’s commemoration, we are fortunate to have Beth Aldridge, who is connected to the North Bay Organizing Project, join us. Beth will share her experiences in helping host a refugee family from Nicaragua. She will be able to detail for us the kind of experiences this and other families have had to endure in seeking asylum in the United States. She will be able to answer questions and make suggestions as to how we might respond in various ways to help relieve such human suffering.

I hope you will join us this coming Saturday evening, August 10th in our sanctuary to learn first-hand about this current situation. Following Beth’s presentation we will have the opportunity to join in the traditional observance of Tish’a b’Av, our Jewish National Day of Mourning. We will chant and read from the Book of Lamentations and recite a few of the special laments (Kinot) that were composed by poets (paytanim) to commemorate the destruction of “God’s House” and other moments of persecution in Jewish History.

While there’s no doubt that this is a sad time, our observance underscores the belief we have, in the infinite worth of every individual and our commitment never to forget this basic principle.

Yours in consolation and blessing,

Mordecai

How You Can Help Bay Area Immigration Organizations

  1. Join NBOP Rapid Response Network
    http://www.northbayop.org/rapidresponse
    https://www.qaateam.org/

***Accompaniment Team
***Know Your Rights Team
***Legal Observer Team
***Host Family and Team (new team being formed now)
***Donate $ (memo line for specific team)
***Donate items to a garage sale 707-225-1302

  1. Legal Defense
    Donate time or $
    http://vidaslegal.org/get-involved/
    http://vidaslegal.org/donate/
  2. Bay Area Border Relief
    https://www.bayareaborderrelief.org/howyoucanhelp.html
    Trip to Texas Oct 19-25
    Knitting Project
    Pizza Delivery
  3. Catholic Charities
    Citizenship and ESL Classes
    https://www.srcharities.org/give-help/volunteer/
    https://www.srcharities.org/get-help/immigration/