#BlogExodus Day 11 Count: Looking at the Numbers

Anyone reading this probably knows (unless my blog goes suddenly and unexpectedly viral) that I shaved my head last week as one of the 36 Rabbis Who Shave for the Brave project, through the St Baldrick’s Foundation.

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I am moved and proud and astounded that together, the 70-something of us (we are not called 36 rabbis who are good at math for a reason) have raised well over $600,000 in just under 5 months.  I find it hard to believe that I’ve individually raised $12,432.  And those numbers are still growing.

But here’s what’s really amazing.  If I look at my own donations, I’ve had 228 people help me get to each of my goals. That’s a lot of people who are helping me in this fight.  But looking more closely, 3/4 of those people gave donations of $50 or less, adding up to about 40% of the money I’ve raised.  About 1/3 of my donors gave $20 or less–a whole lot of people giving $20, or $18, or $10, or $5, or even some spare change–adding up to $1000.

That’s a whole lot of people helping in small, yet meaningful ways.  I love knowing that really, truly, every little bit helps.  And adds up in huge ways.

When we really look at the math.  When we really count.  We see that numbers add up to a whole lot more than their size.  And that every little bit counts a whole lot.

By the way, if you haven’t given, or if you want to make another donation and help us out more, please donate here http://www.stbaldricks.org/participants/rabbiisa or on the pages of any of my colleagues. Thanks!

 

 

#BlogExodus Day 9 Ask: The Limits of Questioning

I love to ask questions.  It’s how I wrap my brain around ideas.  But, sometimes, I wonder if I ask too many.  And wonder if there’s a limit to how many questions I can ask.  Or to what questions I can ask.  Or if there’s a point at which I’ve just used up all the questions I’ve been allotted.  But still, I’m left with more.

Can I ask this?

Have I crossed a boundary by asking this?

Why is this?

How is this?

Am I allowed to ask this?

Do I believe your answer?

Can I trust you?

Can I trust me?

Can I trust the universe?

I guess it really comes down to those last 3.

#BlogExodus Day 7 Bless: Counting My Blessings

I’m a few days behind on BlogExodus, and I’ll eventually go back and do the ones I missed while I was on vacation.  I gave myself permission to miss them, though.  And I had a post on My Jewish Learning’s Canteen on Day 3, on which I was not ENSLAVED by the topic, but wrote about the 36 Rabbis shave and how it is connected to camp. On Day 4, I did an Exodusgram here on being, or becoming, FREE.  So I just need to make up 5 and 6 (prepare and clean).  I’ll get there.  And I’ll try to stay caught up as Nisan continues.

I have times in my life when it’s hard to recognize the blessings I have.  When I get caught up in negativity–caught up in life–and the wonderful things I have I overlook.  But when I stop to think, I really have a lot to be thankful for.  A lot of blessings.  Here are a few:

  • Friends
  • Family
  • Friends who have become family
  • Family who have become friends
  • The ability to choose to shave my head
  • The ability to use my life to take action and make a difference
  • Creativity
  • Laughter
  • Hugs (giving and receiving)
  • The opportunity to inspire others
  • Getting someone else to an a-ha moment
  • Smiles
  • Creativity
  • Relaxation
  • The blooming buds of spring
  • Pushing boundaries
  • Reading a good book
  • Enjoying a good story
  • Finding wisdom
  • Seeking intelligence
  • Enough food that I can eat the things I enjoy sometimes
  • The ability to make healthy choices about what I eat
  • Chocolate
  • The enjoyment of sometimes making, and fully enjoying, the less healthy choice
  • Accepting myself
  • Knowing that those that matter in my life accept me
  • Having people I know can make me feel better when I need it
  • Having people I know won’t try to make me feel better when I’m not ready yet
  • Tears
  • Bravery
  • A simple flower
  • Listening
  • Being heard
  • Discovery
  • Memories
  • Creating new memories
  • Beauty in the world
  • Beauty in myself
  • Pleasure
  • Calm
  • The chance to consider how blessed I am

There’s more, of course.  Perhaps if I take more moments each day for gratitude, I can better realize just how blessed I really am.  And how much I can offer blessing to others.

#BlogExodus Day 2 Tell: Stories Told through Autism

Today was World Autism Awareness Day. People with autism often struggle to express themselves.  That truth is told powerfully with this video (because sometimes stories are told better that way):

Just because a person’s truth is being told in a way we don’t understand, doesn’t mean the truth isn’t there. If we don’t understand another’s story, the fault is not necessarily in the other. If we learn to listen in different ways, we can open ourselves up to hearing a symphony of stories–those told by the universe and those expressed by people experiencing that universe.

The truth is in there.  They are telling their stories.  We need to hear them.

#BlogExodus #ExodusGram 1: Believe

I believe I am a superhero.  I believe you are, too.

We all have powers within us we never knew were there.  And by taking action, we can make a huge difference.

Tonight, I made a difference.  Together with dozens of colleagues, and every person that donated to our cause, WE made a difference.

And we’ll continue to make a difference.  I believe that what we did tonight matters.  That what we’ve done–what we continue to do–will help to make the world a little bit more right.

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What I learned from a stay in the hospital: Musings on Tazria

It often amazes me how relevant Torah is.  Not just in the sense that it’s truly extraordinary that a text thousands of years old can still speak to our lives today, but that each and every Torah portion continually and continually speaks to life.  Each year, we read the Torah start to finish; each year, we find new wisdom to gain.  And each year, depending on what has gone on in life since the year before, we have the opportunity to read the text anew.  Sometimes, the difference in our reading of a given portion from one year to the next is profound. So it is for me as I read Tazria (the first of 2 portions to talk about tzara’at, a skin disease often mistranslated as leprosy) this week.

As some of you know, I spent 4 days in the hospital this past December with MRSA.  MRSA is, essentially, a staph infection that is resistant to antibiotics.  It can cause serious harm and it’s highly contagious.  It doesn’t always go away.  Mine, luckily, was not as bad as it could have been.  I can’t help but think about that experience when I read this week’s portion; I can’t help but consider having been quarantined when I read about how people with tzara’at were sent out of the community for a period of time.  I can’t help but consider what it was like for me to reenter my own community, not all at once, but little by little–amazing how true to life Torah can be.

This piece has been percolating in the back of my mind for a couple of months. So I’m using the opportunity of this week’s portion to write this piece.  While I did not enjoy being in the hospital, I learned from the experience.  Here is some of what I learned–information that has helped me understand illness.  And has helped to inform how I approach life, and those who are ill, since then.

  • Being in the hospital is like being in an alternate universe. I had managed to avoid hospital stays for 41 years, 1 month, 3 weeks, and 2 days. Having now been through the experience, it’s like you exit reality for a time.  Time is measured not by clocks, but by someone coming by to take your vitals.  You learn you have more veins in your arms and hands than you possibly imagined (this was especially fun, as someone who has challenging veins to being with).  Your time isn’t really yours.  And you don’t really have a sense of what’s going on in the outside world.  You get taken where you need to go (from the ER to the room; from the room to surgery; from surgery back to the room) when it needs to happen and you don’t really question it.  I didn’t actually know that I had MRSA until the last day of my hospital stay, by the way.  The day I was admitted, they gave me treatment.  The second day, I had surgery.  The third day, the doctor told me it was Staph, and he didn’t think it looked like MRSA (oh, yeah, don’t forget, doctors aren’t necessarily correct).  The fourth day, he said the culture came back positive for MRSA, but then they let me go home. But to do so, I had to wait for a ton of paperwork. And, yes, they really do have to wheel you out of the hospital when they let you go home.
  • When you are sick, you have no choice but to listen to the experts.  Before I went into the hospital, I knew that I was going to have to be admitted and have surgery. I actually had been to an emergency room already a few days before, but I had plans that I refused to avoid, and so I put off being admitted for 2 days (I suppose it’s now on my permanent record that I left the emergency room against medical advice).  But I only put off the inevitable. The amount of antibiotics and pain killers they gave me to get through only did just that–they got me through.  Until I was finally admitted.  I don’t think the problem got worse during that period, but it certainly didn’t get better.
  • Sometimes, while ill, you don’t really feel fully human.  Once you’re admitted, you’re a patient, not a person.  I received excellent care, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t always feel fully like a person.  I was a bunch of statistics that had to be taken every few hours.  Meds that had to be given–meds that I could ask for (assuming the nurse responded).  A surgery that was done. A bunch of symptoms, before, during, and after, that needed to be resolved.  I didn’t always feel like a person.
  • Sick people don’t always want visitors.  I certainly didn’t.  I told as few people as I could and refused visits from nearly everyone who offered (there were 1 or 2 exceptions that may have made me cave, but I was let out before they were able to convince me). I had absolutely no desire to have anyone see me like that, or to deal with anyone while I was feeling like that. It would have been more harmful to my healing to have someone visit than not. Since I was sick, I’ve become much more attuned to the subtle signals of those with whom I do pastoral visits.  I try to assess if my visit is welcome or not, and respond as such. I realize that some people welcome visitors and couldn’t have too many; but others want no visitors–much less from their rabbi. I try to remember that some people like to heal in private and others welcome the presence of another.  It’s a tough balance.
  • We never really know what’s going on with someone else.  While I was in the hospital, fewer than 10 people really knew what was going on. And nearly all of them because of necessity.  When I responded to emails during that time, I said I was sick–everyone assumed flu.  The folks at the temple gave the same explanation when canceling my appointments or to explain my absence.  I missed a few events that week, and everyone assumed I had the flu or something of that sort.  It was only after my hospital stay that I told people what was going on.  And they were understanding for the most part.  This helped me to realize that we never really know a person’s full truth–only what they share with us.
  • During that ethereal period of back but still maybe contagious, it’s rough.  It took me weeks before I got clearance to visit people in hospitals or to even touch people.  Which was, to say the least, awkward.  And it made me hyper-aware of the fact that just because someone is out of the hospital and back in the community, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re all better.  Sometimes, the return needs to happen in stages.
  • The world can go on without me.  I am a person that tends to do it all.  I take care of my own things and don’t always remember to delegate.  I often volunteer to help others with projects.  I am not good at stepping back and letting things be.  It is challenging for me to let go of things–to trust others to take care of tasks.  Being unable to do much of anything for about a week helped me to realize that life goes on even when I can’t control it.  This was, perhaps, the most important lesson for me.
  • We need to learn to deal with illness. As a society, we tend to put a lot of shame with illness. I chose to be fairly open about the bacteria I had acquired–partly by necessity (when not shaking hands at the oneg, people tend to want to know why) and partly because I was sick and there was really nothing to be ashamed of.  I got a germ.  No, I don’t know how.  Yes, it’s really easy to get.  No, I have no idea of knowing where I picked it up.  But, staph lives on our skin–most of us have it on our skin–I just got unlucky and had an ingrown hair or something in which the bacteria was able to manifest.  And yet illness tends to be something we don’t talk about. I don’t think this is a good thing.
  • Hand washing is important. Some things we learn are entirely practical.  I went through a phase during which my hands were chapped and raw, because I was washing them so much.  I’ve tempered down to normal now, but I still am more careful than ever to wash my hands often.  And I always have hand sanitizer on hand. Seriously.  Wash your hands.
  • Prayer helps. I don’t believe this in a literal way–not my theology.  But knowing that people were praying for me really did help me feel better.
  • Don’t do too much research on the internet. We have this vast resource of information, which is amazing. And I’m so thankful to have it, and to have found people around the world to learn from and talk to.  And so many sources from which to learn more about MRSA.  But there’s also a lot of scary stuff out there.  And a lot of crazy people.  And a lot of things that are presented as fact that aren’t.  Learning all you can is so important–but it’s even more important to learn how to sift through what’s there in order to gain some sense of the truth.
  • Healing takes time. A lot of time. Other than the time in the hospital and the few days after that at home, I had about a month of the wound healing and waiting to get word from the infectious disease doctor (because I have one of those now) that I was good to go.  But the healing process has been longer.  It’s not even really done now.  There’s still part of me that feels unclean because I had a skin disease.  There’s still a part of me that, much more reasonably, worries that it will come back (and it may–I’m thankful that it hasn’t and hopeful that it won’t).  I’ve learned to keep an eye out for signs. And I still have a scar–a fairly significant scar.  I’ve only recently thought about doing anything to make it less apparent, and I’m not sure how successful that will be.  In some ways, it’s an ugly reminder of what I went through–in others, it’s a badge of courage, and a reminder of what I’ve learned.

Yes, illness is not something anyone wants to go through.  But illness can be instructive.  I hope I’ve learned from my experience.  I hope the lessons stick. And it’s amazing how the process that we read about in the Torah makes so much sense in the context of how we experience illness.

For those of you that are ill, I pray that you come to a r’fuah shleimah, a healing of wholeness.  And for those of you that are healthy, I pray that you remain so.  And for all of us, I hope that we learn from whatever life brings us, and accept the inevitable moments of illness.  They’re part of the human experience.

Sunshine Award

Thank you so much to my dear friend and fellow Jewish professional Lisa Friedman for nominating me for a Sunshine Award!! I have known Lisa for a long time (I won’t say how many years), but it’s only within the past several years that we’ve become close, and I now consider her one of my closest friends and most valued colleagues.  She is an amazing educator, and her work as an advocate and activist with the special needs population is inspiring. Seriously, read her blog.  Get to know her work.  Get to know her.

So, she was nominated for a Sunshine Award and nominated me in turn.  To quote Lisa (who is, I believe, quoting the person that nominated her):

A Sunshine Award is an opportunity for readers to learn more about the nominated blogger (that’s me!) and provides an opportunity to highlight fellow bloggers who he/she feels make a significant contribution to the blogging community.

Here are the rules (as listed on Zachary’s blog):

  1. Acknowledge the nominating blogger (Thanks again, Zachary!).
  2. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
  3. Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
  4. List 11 bloggers. They should be bloggers you believe deserve some recognition and a little blogging love!
  5. Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated. (You cannot nominate the blogger who nominated you.)

I’m beyond honored.  And it’s a good way to get back to posting.  So, here I go:

11 Facts (some of which are recycled from an earlier facebook facts about me post)

1. I broke my leg before I could walk, and therefore learned to walk fairly late.  Apparently, after I got the cast off, I continued to crawl for several weeks dragging my leg behind me.

2. I started going to camp when I was 10.  The fall before, I had announced to my parents that I was going to go to camp that summer.  Needless to say, I was clearly a camp person from the start.

3. I’ve never seen The Godfather.

4. I lived at the Kutz Camp for 2 full years (as in, throughout the year). That time included at least 1 huge blizzard–I literally couldn’t leave my cabin for a day and a half.

5. I have friends throughout the world, some of whom I’ve met through the wonders of social networking.  I have not met all of them face to face, and yet I treasure their friendships.  Others, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and it’s only enhanced the friendships.  I even travelled half way around the world to hang out with one of them for a couple of weeks and have hosted several of them in my home

6. I was once paid 50 sheqels to eat the rest of the wasabi on my plate (best money I’ve ever earned…also led to the best sip of beer I’ve ever tasted).

7. When I was younger, I had straight hair.  I wanted nothing more than curly hair, and even had perms in junior high and high school.  When I reached my 30′s, my hair changed and I now have curly hair.

8. I have a list of foods that I just won’t eat. While I’m a pescitarian, I’m not talking about meat. And while I keep kosher, I’m not talking about treif. I’m talking about the foods that I don’t like enough that I sometimes pretend I’m allergic, and I quite simply will not eat. The list includes: almonds, coconut, mushrooms, and bananas.

9. Pesach is my favorite holiday.

10. I love book stores.  I can easily spend hours wandering through them and browsing.  I was very sad to see Border’s go–mainly because I appreciate how they hired and trained staff who could answer questions about books and help guide you towards what you were looking for (and I say that as a former employee, who knows what their expectations were).  You just don’t get that at Barnes and Noble.

11. I love the New York Times crossword puzzle.  Not as much any other puzzle.  It has to be the Times.  Sunday is my favorite.

Questions from Lisa:

If you could cast yourself in any reality TV show, which would it be and why?

Amazing Race. I love to travel, and it depends as much on brains and strategy as it does on physical ability. It also includes a partner, so that one’s weaker points can be compensated by the other.  I’ve actually had ongoing conversations with 2 different friends about what we’d do on the show.

Crunchy or smooth peanut butter?

Crunchy.

Favorite place to vacation?

I don’t think I can answer that.  I’d love to go to Israel again.  Australia was amazing.  I’d love to go someplace new.  More than anything, I like to visit friends and family and spend time with them, wherever they may be.

What animal most describes your personality?

Tigger.

Favorite ice cream flavor?

Graeter’s Black Raspberry Chip

Cookie or cake?

That depends.  What kind?

Describe your ideal day.

I try to live every day to its potential–accomplishing what I can. Doing my best.  Trying my hardest. Spending at least some time with (or communicating with) people I care about.  Doing a little bit to help make the world better.  I’m not sure I have an ideal other than that.  It depends on my mood.

What is your favorite season?

Spring.  I love fall, too because of the beauty of the leaves turning.  But I hate when it starts getting dark early.  So spring wins.

What is your favorite thing about blogging?

I love being able to just write what I’m thinking.  I also love that I can reach people in a different way–and perhaps different people–and share teaching in a different medium.

How do you relax?

Good book.  Glass of wine.  Meaningful conversation.  People watching.  Hot bath.  Long walk.  Any and all of the above.

What did you have for breakfast?

A piece of pumpkin loaf and a cup of coffee (not the healthiest breakfast, I know.  But it was yummy!)

11 bloggers I’m nominating:

(this is hard, because I don’t want to repeat those that others have posted.  And I don’t follow that many blogs regularly)

http://gingeetrabbi.blogspot.com/

http://randomactsofreflection.com/

http://rabbiyair.blogspot.com/

http://www.davidamwilensky.com/

http://jazzrabbi.blogspot.com/

http://cbatampa.blogspot.com/

http://ramakblog.com/

http://sectsandcity.blogspot.com/

http://rabbipaul.blogspot.com/

http://rabbilnw.com/

http://sinaiandsynapses.org/blog-posts/

And 11 questions for them:

1. What makes you laugh?

2. What’s your earliest childhood memory or a favorite childhood memory?

3. What’s the first book you remember reading?

4. What’s the last book you read or what are you reading now?

5. When did you know that you wanted to be doing with your life what you’re doing now?

6. If you had $1,000,000 and you had to spend it ASAP, what would you do with the money?

7. If you could time travel, where/when would you go?

8. If you could go back and give 13-year-old you some advice, what would you tell yourself?

9. Pizza: New York or Chicago?

10. Ocean or lake?

11. Describe the best meal you’ve had (or a favorite).

Enjoy.  Hope some of my nominees play along!! And that y’all enjoyed my ramblings.

If You Save a Single Life

Check out my post today on Kol Isha: Reform Women Rabbis Speak Out

 

http://womensrabbinicnetwork.wordpress.com/2013/09/20/if-you-save-a-single-life/

 

Join me to fight discrimination, and help people who want to save lives be able to do so.

Why I continue to apologize on Facebook

We are in the midst of (almost done with) the 10 Days of Repentance.  The time on the Jewish calendar between Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement).  It is during this time during which we are taught to truly consider our deeds and actively repent.  A major part of that process (perhaps the most important part) is to apologize for the wrongs we have done to others and to ask forgiveness.

Over the past few years, the trend has arisen to make “mass apologies” on facebook. There has also been some criticism of this practice, which is understandable.  Apologizing en masse for everything you’ve done in a general statement to everyone you know certainly doesn’t replace a an authentic process of atonement and repentence.

And yet, I still apologize on facebook.  And I will continue to do so.  Even if I know there are those that don’t think it’s right.  But it’s part of my own process, and it’s become important to my holiday ritual. And here are some of my reasons why I think it’s a legitimate expression of my Jewish practice:

  • As I said, it’s become part of my ritual.  And I think ritual is important.  The moment when I make that post each year has actually become a moment when I’m able to pause and reflect.  Not think about sermons, or service order, or what time I need to be where.  It’s a moment when I’m able to recognize that the holiday is to begin soon.
  • It’s not a replacement, it’s an addition.  Writing a facebook post is not the only apologizing I do.  I admit some of it may sometimes happen after Yom Kippur, but I make a concerted effort during this season to seek forgiveness from those that I’ve wronged during the past year.  The group apology is in addition to the other work I do in t’shuvah.
  • Otherwise, I might miss people.  Not because I will forget them (although, I admit, that’s possible), but because I might not know.  Sometimes we hurt people inadvertantly; more to the point, sometimes we hurt people and we don’t realize it.  By opening the door to invite people to tell me that I’ve hurt them, I open the opportunity to do t’shuvah for acts that I might not have realized I needed to do t’shuvah for.  We are taught in Leviticus 19 that we should rebuke people for the worngs they have done–but I know that’s difficult.  Perhaps, if I invite people to rebuke me, it will make it that much easier for them to point out something I’ve done wrong.  So that I can learn, and that I can consider, and that I can change, and that I can do better in the future.
  • I have friends on the internet.  Friends whom I only know, or mainly know, through digital means.  Some of them I have never heard the sounds of their voice–others I’ve met in person.  But our main friendship exists online.  It’s only natural for me to apologize online.
  • I can model behavior.  One of the many ways I use facebook and other social media as a tool is that it gives me a chance to model Jewish living.  By showing others–my students, my congregants, my friends–that I take the actions of the High Holy Days seriously, and not just when I’m in temple–not just in services–I show that these are things that we can all do in general.
  • It’s a teaching moment.  This is related to the above, but it’s also a chance for those not of the Jewish faith to learn what Jewish people do during these days.  We consider our actions.  We apologize.  We repent.  We try to do better.  By making my actions public, even in a symbolic way (and isn’t much of what we do during this season symbolic), I’m able to show what these holidays are all about.
  • It’s not the only time that it’s a less than perfect confession.  This isn’t so much a reason as it is something I’ve come to realize.  The holidays are full of moments when we apologize, when we atone, and it isn’t really a moment of real apology.  I know for myself, my mind is more on making sure I don’t lose my place during the responsive reading of Al Chet than on the communal recitation of our wrongs.  During Kol Nidrei, my mind might wander to my sermon.  During Ashamnu, I admit to taking a moment to giggle at the stretches that the English acrostic takes–and perhaps at the line “an alphabet of woe.”  The holy days are full of times when our actions are important–when our words are ritualized and symbolic–when what we are saying is not an authentic apology or act of t’shuvah, but is still an act of importance.  For me, this is a modern embodiment of my own version of that.

So, yes.  Tomorrow afternoon, I will make a post apologizing to those I haven’t apologized to–asking those I have wronged to let me know–and wishing everyone a meaningful holiday experience.  I recognize that there are those that don’t follow that practice–that there are those that don’t appreciate that practice…but that’s the case for much of my Jewish expression.  And such is the joy and challenge of the diversity of modern Jewish expression.

#BlogElul 28 Give: Spending time on other things

Time seems particularly precious this time of year.  With the holidays approaching–so close that they are nearly on top of us–it can be hard to find the time to put effort into other matters.  And yet, sometimes, we must.

Which is why I’ve given a good portion of my time this past week towards supporting the Non-Discrimination Ordinance, wearing suits and wearing red, spending a lot of time sweating in the hot sun.  Sometimes, there are things towards which we must give our time and our voices–because to create justice and righteousness in the world is an act as holy as standing before the congregation on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

And so, I share the remarks that I gave today on the steps of city hall, standing side by side with fellow clergy–standing surrounded by 60 leaders from a variety of faith traditions–all of us raising our religious voices in support of the ordinance:

I’m Rabbi Elisa Koppel, from Temple Beth-El.  I speak today as a citizen, as a woman, as a Jew, and especially as a Rabbi.  

I speak as a person of faith, in favor of the Non-Discrimination Ordinance.  

In the Torah, the most sacred text of Judaism, Exodus 22:20, we read, “You shall not wrong nor oppress a stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”  This idea is at our core.  

At the very beginning of our history, we were slaves in Egypt, we were the stranger. And so many times throughout our history, we have been the stranger. 

Even in America, it was not so long ago that Jews were denied housing, denied service, denied jobs, denied basic civil rights.  

We have been the stranger, and now we support the stranger, we fight for the stranger, we work to end discrimination against the stranger—whoever that stranger may be.

This was the message of Rabbi Joachim Prinz, when he stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial 50 years ago last week, delivering a speech that was immediately followed by Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech.  In his remarks, he said:

…Our fathers taught us thousands of years ago that when God created man, he created him as everybody’s neighbor. Neighbor is not a geographic term. It is a moral concept. It means our collective responsibility for the preservation of man’s dignity and integrity.

Rabbi Prinz, for the rest of his life, referred to the march on Washington as the “most memorable religious experience of my life.”

It is in this spirit that I stand before you.  Just as the Jewish people fought for civil rights in the past, we continue that fight today.

With responsibility for our neighbor.  Our neighbor who is also created b’tzelem elohim, in the Image of God.  Our neighbor who, because of their Divine essence, deserves to be treated with respect, deserves the same rights as all others, also created in that same image.

It is because of my religious conviction, because of my values, that I stand here today.  

It is by my religion, that I am called, I am compelled, I am obligated, I am commanded, to support the rights of all human beings and to support the fight of those who are oppressed.  

To support the fight against discrimination.  

To work for righteousness in our city, our country and in our world.  

To pursue legislation that is based not on prejudice, but on justice.

I hope, I pray, that the city council votes in favor of this important ordinance.

And on that day, the world shall be one and God’s name shall be one.  Ken Y’hi Ratzon.  May this be God’s will–may this be our will.

I fully INTENDED to write for #Blogelul 27, Intend, but life got in the way.  26, Hope, was a microblog that you can find on my twitter feed.