01 August 2015

An Opportunity to Pray with Your Feet

[E-mailed to Temple Sholom members on 7/31/15]

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, the modern American Jewish prophet, famously said of his time spent on the Voting Rights March in Selma, Alabama, in 1965, that "I felt my legs were praying."  We pray a lot in the synagogue, sitting and standing, but perhaps we do not take enough time to walk the walk; to pray with our feet.
Along with (at latest count) 150 other Reform Rabbis, I have been asked to participate as part of the Reform Movement's contingent in the NAACP's America's Journey for Justice March which begins tomorrow, August 1st, in Selma, Alabama.  Over 40 days (a number which has great resonance for us as Jews), this march will continue to Washington, DC, where it will conclude with a rally on September 16th.  I, along with Rabbi David Levy from Temple Shalom in Succasunna, and Rabbi Tom Alpert of Temple Eitz Chayim in Franklin, MA will be carrying a Torah scroll (which is making the entire journey) on Friday, August 21st. 
I invite you to join me.  I hope to travel down to Greenville, South Carolina on Wednesday, August 19th, to join the state rally at noon on Thursday, August 20th.  I will march on Friday, August 21st, and celebrate Shabbat with the Greenville community - leaving either Saturday evening or Sunday morning.  If we get enough people, we will rent or borrow a van to drive down together.  Local worship communities have offered free floor space, or there are rooms that can be reserved at local hotels.
Sunday, August 16th begins the Jewish month of Elul, the last month before Rosh haShanah.  Traditionally, we, as Jews, are asked to examine our conduct in the past year as we begin our journey to repentance.  What better way to prepare for the High HolyDays than standing up and walking forward to make our country a better place for all its citizens?  What better way to fulfill the prophetic calling of Isaiah that we read on Yom Kippur, than to work to build civil rights protections for everyone?
If you are interested in joining me for this historic journey, please let me know, and register on the link through the Reform movement. If you cannot join us, but would like to contribute to our effort - please make a designated donation to the Temple Sholom Rabbi's Discretionary Fund, which I'll use to defray the costs.  You can also support the march as a whole through the NAACP site.  
Thousands of years ago, Jewish tradition teaches us that we all marched together to Mount Sinai.  Every Jew who ever was or will be shared in that moment.  There have been many moments since then, when Jews have stood together - with each other, or with other communities in solidarity and shared belief.  This is one of those moments and your presence counts.  
On the front of our building, we have placed the words that God has given us as a challenge to live in our daily lives - Create Justice, Love Mercy, Humbly Follow Your God.  The word "follow" can also be translated as "walk in (God's) path" - let us walk this path together.