Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel says, “The world rests on three things: on Justice and on Truth and Peace. As it says ‘Judge in your gates with Truth, Justice and Peace.'” (Zecharaiah 8:16)
As summer rolls by it appears that we are living in a world where these foundations are crumbling. In their place we see emotionality, injustice, and violence. It seems as if there is little that we can do as we watch the disrespect for human life continue week by week and day by day.
I believe that somewhere, at the basis of it all, is a sense of fear and hopelessness on the part of a growing number of people. This inevitably leads to anger and desperation. When a person despairs, they are capable of anything, just as a drowning man clutches at a straw! They may believe anything or follow any person – if they think that this will solve their immediate situation.
Trying to take on all the problems in our society may be beyond our own abilities. At the same time, in recognizing the fact that, compared to the vast majority of the world’s population, most of us live lives of privilege, we have a moral responsibility to do what we can to gain understanding and seek ways to begin to seriously address the issues which have led to our current such situation. How do we find ways to stand by our brothers and sisters with black and brown skin who feel that their lives and livelihood are in danger? How can we stand by our law enforcement officials who have chosen a career of service, and a dangerous one at that? How can we bridge the widening gaps between us and start to really support one another?
Can we stop talking over each other’s pain and start listening? Can we stop standing by and start standing up?
How do we begin to address this problem?
I have to thank Jenny Levine-Smith for calling me to a meeting with our executive director, Leah Frost, to share her concerns and to call for action. We contacted Lyla Nathan, chair of our Social Action Committee, who eagerly gave her full support; all with the blessing of our synagogue president Laura Alexander.
Obviously, as a small synagogue community we have to start with baby steps. First we need to gather together to listen to one another; in some cases, hear the pain of those among us and begin to define what are some of the most significant points of disfunction that exist in our Santa Rosa community.
To begin this process for Beth Ami, we are calling on anyone who wishes to consider taking an active role, to a meeting in our Sanctuary, Wednesday evening, July 20th at 7:00 p.m.
RSVP to the synagogue office (707) 360-3000 and let us know if you plan to attend.
I still believe Amor vincit omnia – Love conquers all, and that we can start to rebuild the pillars of Justice, Truth and Peace.