Election Day is Over, What’s Next?

This has been an extraordinary year, culminating now in a period of waiting as the dust settles after a tumultuous election season. But what remains crystal clear is that the challenges that our country faces, challenges that deeply divide us as a nation, will not magically disappear when all the votes are counted. This means that we cannot simply sit back and assume that everything will just work itself out. We will continue to be concerned about the issues that are close to our hearts: health care that is accessible and affordable, immigration, LGBT rights, reproductive freedom, homelessness and hunger, and systemic racial inequalities. Each of these still call out for justice. We must be prepared to remain actively engaged to address these issues head on and pursue paths for healing and wholeness, for the sake of each other, for the sake of our children and grandchildren, and for the sake of our country. We must commit to continue educating ourselves about these issues, deepening our compassion for all, and striving to build bridges of understanding between the beautiful and diverse peoples who comprise the United States of America.


I am excited to share that our Social Justice Committee, Team Tikkun Olam, is working on a year-long program to address one of our current and most persistent challenges, that of racial injustice in America. We will be offering a series of different programs that we hope will provide you with a  variety of opportunities to engage with these issues of racial justice. Perhaps you are just starting to think about these issues, we welcome you to join us on this journey. Perhaps you have been deeply involved in working on issues of race for years, we welcome you, too, to join us on this path. As we learn and understand more about this issue and how it affects us personally, both as human beings and as Jews, we will be inspired and empowered to work for change, to work for justice.

Our first program, a three-part lecture series with Prof. John Liu, entitled Perspectives on Systemic Racism, begins on Wednesday, November 11 at 3 pm and then continues on the following two Wednesdays This will be a fascinating introduction to this topic and there will also be plenty of time to engage in conversation and ask questions. In addition to lectures and presentations, personal narratives and discussion groups, we are also exploring movies that we can watch together and discuss, books and articles to read, classes to host, and actions that we can undertake as a community over the course of the year.

These are challenging and complex issues that force us to look at our own privileges; privileges that many of us enjoy simply because we are considered white. We hope that you will come to explore, reflect and deepen your understanding and engagement with this critical concern of our day. If we would like to truly make a difference in creating a world of justice and equality for all then let us embark on this journey together, one step at a time, one breath at a time.

To get you thinking about this issue, you may want to watch/read (or rewatch) any of the following:

My Rosh Hashanah sermon on racial justice: text and video.

Rabbi Angela Buchdahl’s Yom Kippur sermon We Are Family: Rethinking Race in the Jewish Community: video.

And check out this great resource about becoming an anti-racist: http://antiracismforbeginners.com/

We also invite you to attend these two great programs, hosted by Temple Isaiah in Lafayette, with Billy Planer, the founder and Director of Etgar 36 (www.etgar.org). Planer developed Etgar 36 after 20 years of leading synagogue youth programs and educating young people. The first program is How to Be Comfortable Having Uncomfortable Conversations on Sunday, November 15 from 11:30am-1pm online and the second will be Jews and Blacks in the Civil Rights Era and Now, Midrash and Fact on Sunday, November 22 from 11:30am-1pm online

We look forward to learning with and from you. If you have ideas for other programs or resources that would be of interest please do not hesitate to reach out to me.

Many blessings,

Rabbi Greg