Rabbi Elizabeth S. Wood

Rabbi Elizabeth S. Wood
Celebrating Havdallah

Thursday, January 12, 2012

MLK Shabbat - You and I can change the world

As many congregations are preparing to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Day this weekend during Shabbat services or weekend activities, I am struck by the juxtaposition of this week's parasha to our national holiday that celebrates and praises liberty, freedom, and rights for all humankind.

In the beginning of this week's parasha, Shemot, we learn about the enslavement of the Israelites under Egyptian rule, because Pharaoh was afraid of them. Terrible atrocities are to befall the Israelites as Pharaoh attempts to control and/or systematically annihilate them. But we learn of another person in this parasha - Moses. We know that with this man's help, resistance to Pharaoh will begin and change will occur. His leadership will be both thoughtful, comforting and (mostly) inspiring. Just like Martin Luther King, Jr., one voice is all that is needed to take a stand, to see the possibilities, and to take action towards liberation and redemption.

This Shabbat at The Reform Temple of Forest Hills, we are using our bimah Friday night to encourage our teens to speak their minds and engage their voices and calls for social action and social justice. In December, ten of our teens went on the Religious Action Center's L'takein program in Washington, D.C. During the four days they spent there, they learned, prayed, and actively lobbied to our congresspeople about issues ranging from global climate change, stem cell research, and civil rights. This Friday night, our teens will be reenacting that experience by presenting a "mock-lobby" to the congregation. Not only will the work they did be showcased, but they will have the opportunity to engage with our community as to WHY these issues are important to them, WHAT can be done about it, and the significance of raising one's voice and championing causes that are near and dear to them. Our teens, and all teens who engage in this sacred work, are a shining example of leadership, courage, inspiration and hope in our world. I am so proud of these teens, so grateful for the opportunity the RAC provides to our congregation, and looking forward to hearing our community engage with these issues on social action and justice.

No matter what you do this weekend - whether you engage with words of Torah or words of peace, justice, and action (OR BOTH!) take a moment to reflect on the power that one voice can have in this world.

Ani v'atah n'shaneh et Ha-olam

You and I can change the world

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