I’m just back from a week visiting the Dominican Republic as a Global Justice Fellow (GJF) with the American Jewish World Service (AJWS). I was proud to represent our community as one of fifteen rabbis and one cantor, chosen to be ambassadors for the incredibly important work AJWS does in the world. In visiting the Dominican Republic, we were exposed to the transformational efforts of NGO’s working on a grassroots level to address human rights and social justice issues. We met with grantees who are advocating for the more than 200,000 Dominicans of Haitian Descent who have been rendered stateless and by extension, right-less, who live without citizenship, healthcare and the dignity of being at home in their birthplace. Racial profiling is rampant and racism is an ever-present reality.
We met with groups advocating for and supporting equality and rights for LGBTQI and Transgender people and those who are working to end violence against women. I saw so much, felt so much and I look forward to sharing this profound trip with the community in the weeks ahead.
As I continue to unpack the trips’ meaning and message for me and for the Romemu community, I can’t help but think of the implications for all of us as we head into the unknowns that face us. The one message I heard, over and over again, wherever we visited, was this: organize and don’t lose hope.
Surely, each of us, regardless of how we personally feel about the incoming President and Administration, is keenly aware of the wide-ranging anxiety being felt locally, nationally and globally as we prepare ourselves for an unprecedented Presidency. Surely we can all agree that, while we as a nation may have deep substantive differences of opinion on policy and methodologies, on the purpose and purview of the market and what government is supposed to do (or not do), most of us – the vast majority of us I would argue -believe fear, hatred, racism, bigotry, anti-semitism, misogyny, Islamophobia are not what we voted for and do not represent our core Jewish values. ‘Spiritual Activism’ is not Democratic nor is it Republican. Our allegiance should be to those the most fundamental truth of our faith, namely, that all human beings are created b’tzelem elohim, as images of the Divine. ‘Spiritual Activism’ is rooted in this truth and doesn’t trade indignity for indignity but remains steadfastly connected to love and justice, compassion and truth. Spiritual Activism demands that we fight for those who are marginalized and for those who are most vulnerable amongst us, that we organize to insure our country remains forever the land of the free and the home of the brave.
In hope for a world of love and peace,