11 January 2010

Answer This Call...

Last Friday night, we read the first portion of the book of Exodus, Sh'mot. Specifically, we read the beginning of chapter 3, where Moses encounters the burning bush. For my sermon, I spoke about Moses receiving a call from God. I mentioned (as our student Cantor chuckled) about how uncomfortable we, as Jewish clergy, feel when a (usually) non-Jewish person asks us about our "call" - when that moment was when God spoke to us and asked/told us to be a Rabbi/Cantor. However, even as liberal Jews, we still must recognize that there are situations that call us to action. In Moses' case, as Rabbi Lawrence S. Kushner points out, Moses first takes the time to notice that not only is the bush burning, but that it is unconsumed by the flames. Second, when God notices that Moses has approached to examine this wondrous sight, and God speaks to him from the flames, Moses is hesitant (humble, perhaps) and asks God if there might not be someone else better for the job. To say the least, God is dismissive of this idea - and one could make the inference that the individual who notices the call has self-selected themselves to respond.

Again, the first part of the call is hearing it. The second is, despite our reluctance, to answer.

This past week, the head of the Israeli Religious Action Center, Anat Hoffman, received a somewhat different call. A long-time leader of the group Women at the Wall was brought in by the Israeli police and questioned about her possible commission of a felony - in dressing in a tallit, worshipping and possibly reading Torah at the Kotel (the Western Wall). This seems to be a follow-up to the arrest of Nofrat Frenkel almost two months ago while she was reading Torah at the Kotel (see previous post).

In response, Anat and the IRAC issued a call to us - Jews around the world who will not stand for the Orthodox monopoly of our historic Jewish site. We are asked, as members of the Jewish Diaspora, to reach out to the representatives of the Jewish State - its ambassadors and consuls - and let them know how we feel.

Now, the time has come for you to first find this post and notice that the issue continues to burn. Once having heard the call, you must overcome your reluctance (or even busy schedule) and take the time to call, write a letter, or send an e-mail - both to Ambassador Michael Oren and to your local consul.

Answer the call. Turn aside and see what a glorious sight there is to behold.

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