Letter: A place to start: Small acts of thoughtfulness and compassion – Fauquier Times

Posted By on June 15, 2020

I, as everyone else, have been trying to process the events of the past week or so. How did our country become so flawed thatdriving whileblack is a synonym for danger? What cancer is there in our society that a man like George Floyd would meet his death literally under thekneeof another man, a man sworn to protect and defend?That Breonna Taylor can be murdered in her own bed for sleeping while black?

There is a section in theTalmud, the compendium of Jewish Law,that teachesthat while we are all created in Gods image, we are also, at the same time, individual and unique. Itconcludes:Therefore, each and every one must say, 'for me the world was created.(Talmud Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5)The world was created for me, a female, white Jewish rabbi. And for you. And for George Floyd. And for Tamir Rice andAhmaudArberyand all the others killed because of the color of their skin or their religion or being different or other.

Color, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender identification none of these things should matter when it comes to human rights and basic human decency. Why is it still so difficult to say, and more importantly, believe, that Black Lives Matter?

There is a passage in the Talmud that teachesthat when God created humanity, God created only one individual(Genesis 1:27).This teachesus that when we take a life it is as if we have destroyed an entire world,and when we save a life it is as if we have saved an entire world. Having one ancestor for all humanity was intendedto promote peace among the creations, that no onewould say to his friend, My ancestors are greater than yours. The lessonis that weare all created from the samesource, and from one ancestor, Adam, and therefore no one of us is better or more deserving than any other.

Yet, we do have differences: skin of different colors, different opportunities, wealth, or beauty. What we don't like to admit, is that many of these we have the ability to change, as a society. But it is extremely difficult for us to deny ourselves whatever advantageswe think we have. But our scriptures command us: Do not stand idly bythe blood of your neighbor (Lev. 19:16). The way wealth is distributed, the way opportunities are shared, even atrait that might seem pure luck, beauty, is mutable to money and health; all of these could be distributed more fairly if we took seriously the obligations of our faiths for equality.

I am no guru with knowledge of a better future and the steps we need to take to get there. I fully acknowledge that it can be a scary thing to put ourselves out there for the sake of others, especially in these increasingly dangerous times. But, as is found inethics of oursages, it is not up to us to complete the work, neither are we free to desist from it. We are however, required to begin the work.

We neednt startbig;we can startwith small acts of thoughtfulness and compassion. Learn what it means to be an ally and a good citizen.Get involved in efforts to gain civilian oversight of policing, make sure you are registered to vote and help others register to vote, and educate yourself about voter suppression efforts and donate to organizations that fight it. Every action makes a difference because ultimately good follows good. The complexity of the modern world makes us feel as if we have no power. But we do. We just need the courage to act on it.

Rabbi, Fauquier Jewish Congregation

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Letter: A place to start: Small acts of thoughtfulness and compassion - Fauquier Times

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