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Praying With My Feet

We studied the Shema and V’Ahavta last Tuesday at Hebrew School, exploring the commandment to love God with all our heart, all our soul and all that we have. This is a text that we are called upon to contemplate every day, as the Shema is part of daily prayer. I use the term “contemplate” mindfully, rather than using the terms chant or pray. This text falls in the part of the service that invites our questioning even more than our devotion. It asks us to consider, every day, what is it that God wants of us?  What does it mean to love God with all that we are, all that we do and all that we have?  Prayer is one response but as Jews we know that it is not the only response.  We are called upon to learn and called upon to act, to perform deeds of loving kindness every day.

Having just observed MLK day I am reminded of the words of the late Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, who participated in the march from Selma.  When asked if he prayed in Selma, Rabbi Heschel responded that he prayed with his feet. So it is that many in our community, many around the nation and around the globe will be observing Shabbat this coming weekend by praying with their feet.

The marches in Washington and other cities mean different things to different people. To me, they represent the most fundamental teaching from Genesis - that humans are created in the image of God - all humans. Women’s rights are human rights. It is important to speak up for the vulnerable in society. Democracy is a treasure to be protected.

I am writing to let you know that I will be joining the members of Beth Israel who are marching on Saturday. I am writing to let you know that I am grateful to Rabbi Nathan who swapped a Saturday with me and will cover the bimah this Shabbat. In turn, I look forward to leading the Hebrew School Shabbat for him on February 4th.   

Finally, I am grateful to be part of our diverse community.  Whether or not you are marching or are in support of this march, let us keep in mind the central message from the book of Exodus which we begin to read this Shabbat. Let’s remember the stranger – the vulnerable among us - and work for justice, healing and peace.

Wishing you and yours a Shabbat Shalom, Rabbi Linda

Thu, September 19 2019 19 Elul 5779