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Praying With Our Feet (Jan 2017)

Last Shabbat my wife Carol and I participated in the Women’s March on the Boston Common.  I know a few other members of the congregation who were there, and that a few of our members rode all the way to Washington, D.C. to attend the march in the Capitol. 

 

I was amazed and gratified by the turnout in Boston, and as we learned only later that day of the outpouring and huge numbers of participants around the country and around the world.  The marches and rallies were intended to send a message to the new administration that many of the hateful and misogynist views expressed by now President Trump, as well as many of the discriminatory policies he has espoused and is now trying to enact, are deplorable and unacceptable.

 

Stephanie Lowitt, in describing her experience and perspective on the march, echoes many of my own reactions to the experience.  She describes the “holy obligation” of standing up for human dignity and against so many of the values and views that our new President has expressed not only throughout the presidential campaign, but for years.  She describes her Judaism “being rooted in the value of justice,” which implies acting on behalf of justice. “Tzedek, tzedek tirdof”—“Justice, justice you will pursue,” we are implored in Deuteronomy.  Lowitt cites the oft-quoted comment of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, who, described the experience of marching with Martin Luther King, Jr., in Selma, Alabama, as “praying with our feet.”

 

Later in the day, like most of you, we were “treated” to the new White House Press Secretary ranting and lying about the greatest attendance ever at President Trump’s inauguration the day before the marches, despite tangible facts to the contrary.  Not only was the attendance at President Obama’s 2009 inauguration much greater, as juxtaposed pictures of the crowds on the National Mall clearly show, but additionally, attendance at the Saturday women’s march dwarfed the attendance of the Trump inauguration.

 

But we are in a new era.  An era in which the media are discussing whether they should use the terms “lie” or “falsehood” in describing what has become a steady stream of such statements coming from administration officials or the President himself.  An era of alternative facts.  Of false claims (pardon me, lies) from the President about massive voter fraud to explain why he lost the popular vote.  An era in which mayors of many of our largest cities have stated firmly in the last few days that their cities will not cooperate with any national efforts to deport their residents, even if they are not in our country legally.  An era which some have likened to George Orwell’s 1984, and at least one seasoned observer, Dan Rather, to The Twilight Zone.  Sadly, this is our new normal, and one day of marching will not be enough.  We will have to continue to make our voices heard, to make our concerns known to our elected officials, to pray with our voices and our feet, in the months and years to come.

 

Rabbi Mike

Mon, June 26 2017 2 Tammuz 5777