As I start my summer break I am worried about the direction of our country. As you know, in the past two weeks the Supreme Court has released a number of decisions that have radically altered the direction of our nation. Days after the massacre in Texas the Court made it easier for people to carry weapons. They overturned Roe and denied bodily autonomy to half the country. They once again broke a treaty with Native Americans by stripping away the autonomy of Native American Reservations. They struck a mortal blow to the separation of church and state by allowing school prayer. And they gutted the EPA just as the effects of climate disruption are beginning to have real, life and death consequences.
So much of this runs counter to the positions our Reform Movement has taken based on our understanding of Jewish tradition and values. And I am honestly at a loss as to what we can do to right this ship so that this great nation once again stands for liberty, equality and justice.
I do not know how we get out of this. But I do know this. If there is a path forward, and I have to believe there is, we will not find that path on our own. Only if we stand together can we hope to effect the changes we need. And that takes the hard work of coalition-building. If ever there were a time when we needed broad, inclusive coalitions that share enough common goals to be able to put aside differences and roll up our sleeves, it is now.
Rabbi Hayim of Tzanz used to tell this parable:
A person, wandering lost in the forest for several days, finally encountered another.
They called out: “My friend, show me the way out of this forest.” The other replied: “Friend, I too am lost. I can only tell you this: The ways I have tried lead nowhere; they have only led me astray. Take my hand, and let us search for the way together.”
Rabbi Hayim would add: “So it is with us. When we go our separate ways, we may go astray. Let us join hands and look for the way together.
And so it is today. May this July 4th serve as a reminder of the potential of this nation- a nation that has given our community success we never imagined possible- and may we recommit ourselves to doing the hard work to maintain justice and liberty FOR ALL.
Rabbi Daniel M. Cohen