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Dear Friends,

I try my best to be calm, direct and centered when addressing issues in my Shabbat messages. I don’t know that I am able today. In fact, I am not in a mind to even try to do so.

Teaching from a tradition that values life among all else, this week feels like a seismic shift the likes of which I have never experienced in my 57 years. In one week, the Supreme Court, the body that is supposed to protect the rights of all Americans, has taken two actions that will result in an increase in suffering and death and has already indicated that they plan to go even further.

So, as I write this, I am not calm. I am outraged.

In the wake of the murder of 19 children and two teachers, Congress is finally poised to take action to address our nation’s gun violence epidemic. Their actions fall short of what the country really needs, but it is at least a step. And yet, at the very same moment that this legislation was moving through Congress, the Supreme Court undermined much of what they are trying to accomplish and made it easier for people to openly carry firearms.

The result will be more shootings and murders in a country that has already seen gun violence become one of the leading causes of death in our nation. It is hard to comprehend.

I am not calm. I am outraged.

And now that same Court, whose three newest members all lied during their confirmation hearings and claimed to respect precedent, has overturned Roe. By negating the Constitutional protection for reproductive rights that has been in place for fifty years, they have take a significant step toward undoing many of the social gains we have seen in recent decades.

A statement from the American Cantors Conference that Cantor Moses helped craft articulates many of my thoughts:

“The Reform Movement has a long history of support for reproductive rights dating back to a 1935 Resolution by the Women for Reform Judaism, decades before the right to a safe abortion was codified by the Court. Throughout the decades, the Reform Movement has steadfastly worked to ensure a person’s right to choose.
A defining pillar of Reform Judaism is the fundamental belief in the sanctity of life and the Jewish value of kavod ha’briyot, respect for human dignity. There is no doubt in the teaching of our sages that the life and well-being of an existing life must be prioritized over the possibility of potential life.”

The result of this ruling is that women who need an abortion will still have an abortion, but many will not be able to do so in a safe manner. We will see more suffering and death as a result. It is hard to comprehend.

I am not calm. I am outraged.

And if that weren’t enough, we now know that Clarence Thomas has also set his, and the Court’s, sights on access to contraception and marriage equality. It is hard to comprehend.

I am not calm. I am outraged.

And I am not quite sure what to do with those emotions right now.

There is a story told in the name of the Baal Shem Tov (Besht) of a father who came to the Besht, saying his son had broken away from Jewish tradition and lost his moral compass. The father reported that he had tried everything but nothing had succeeded in returning his child to the proper path.
“What should I do, Rebbe?” the man inquired.
“Do you love your son?” asked the Besht.
“Yes, I do,” replied the man.
“Then love him more,” said the Besht.

I have been thinking about this teaching all week. It would have been understandable for that father to throw up his hands and give up. After all, he had tried so very hard to keep his son on the right path and only saw him straying further and further.

It would be understandable for us to be distraught and throw up our hands as we see the country we love slipping further and further from the morals and values of love, respect and inclusion that we hold dear. It would be easy for us to turn our backs on this nation.

I am trying to listen to the advice of that rabbi. I am TRYING to listen to that sage advice and set aside my upset and “love this country more.”

But I’m not there at the moment. At the moment I am sad and scared for the future. So I have decided to allow myself the space to grieve and feel the strong feelings that are currently washing over me like waves in a turbulent sea. But soon, perhaps tomorrow or perhaps further down the line, I will set those feelings aside and do my best to take the rabbi’s advice… and turn it into action. Because when something we love, be it a child or a country, is moving in the wrong direction we need to love even more and channel that love into the hard work of setting things back on the right path.

In the meantime, we know how challenging this time is for so many of us. Please know that we are here to listen, to talk and to offer support.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Daniel M Cohen


Friends, this evening we will celebrate Sunny Seglin on the occasion of her retirement after 36 years of dedicated service to this community. Services will begin at 6pm and be followed by a dessert reception in Sunny’s honor.

Also at 6pm, there will be a protest in support of Reproductive Rights in Spiotta Park, organized in response to today’s ruling. Rabbi Klein will be the opening speaker at the demonstration, reflecting on the values our Reform Jewish community holds so dear.

Whether you will be with us for services, or if you will be at the rally, please still join us at temple around 7pm to celebrate with an oneg in Sunny’s honor.