This Friday night, our services will be filled with the many voices of our congregation. You will especially hear the voices of Davis students as they join us in prayer and reflection, sharing with the community why they like to be Jewish.
I often joke that one of my favorite parts of being a rabbi is that I get to be a “professional Jew.” By this, I mean that I live out my days trying to model an active Jewish lifestyle that projects the values and morals of our tradition in a 21st-century world. Sometimes that means teaching in the classroom, leading a congregation in prayer, or comforting a mourner. Other times, it involves talking to preschoolers about their views on God, playing Gaga with the fourth grade, or even taking our tenth graders to lobby their elected officials, all the way to their D.C. offices.
So what’s my favorite part of being Jewish? Well, as a rabbi, it’s the ability to do every single one of those things in a single week. This week in particular, after the tragedy that befell Parkland Florida, my Jewish values and morals compelled me to take action. But not only did I take action, the leading teens of our congregation were also compelled to act.
At the Religious Action Center’s L’Taken weekend, our students could have lobbied on any number of issues, but their Jewish values compelled them to lobby for Gun Violence Prevention. As Jasmine Pettus shared, “The Talmud teaches us, ‘He who takes a life, it is as though he has destroyed a universe, and he who saves one life, it is as though he has saved the universe’ (Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5). We as Reform Jews must take a stand in creating a safer environment for children and adults in our schools, communities, and in this great country. Even if raising our voices saves just one life, we must do everything we can to prevent bloodshed.”
Through prayer, through protest, through probing our souls, may we find a way to heal this country and to ensure safety for our children. Judaism demands that we encompass these values: to pray for others, to take action, and to meditate and reflect on what changes we need to make to be a part of making this world a better place. As we move into this Shabbat, may we all reflect on our favorite part of being Jewish, and may that favorite part guide us toward meaningful contributions to this world.