June 30, 2017
4 Tammuz 5777

Dear Friends,

I don’t need to tell you:  we are living through challenging times.  It is hard, no impossible, these days to keep up with all of the petitions we are asked to sign, the letters we are urged to write, the protests we are asked to attend.  Responding to all of these important requests can easily be a part-time, if not a full-time job.

Many of us in these past weeks have been focused on the tragic death of Charleena Lyles–yet one more Black/African American person in this country who has been killed by police.  Some of us have marched in protest; some have written to local and national officials.  Many of us have read or listened anxiously as Congress has debated the Republican health care plan; some of us have written or called our elected officials and advocated that millions of people must not be left without health care coverage or care.  Some of us have continued to explore how to offer sanctuary and support to immigrants who face detention or deportation, while some of us have waited and watched to see how the Administration’s proposed travel ban would play out, also writing letters, signing petitions, and doing whatever we can to insist that Muslims not be targeted because of their religion.  And so much more.

I too sign many petitions, participate in rallies, and write my elected officials as much as I am able.  In addition, I try to discern:  how can I-as a rabbi, a leader, and a teacher of Judaism–most effectively respond?  For me, one way is through the power of my pen:  writing Op-Ed pieces and letters, drawing on the teachings and values of Jewish Tradition to highlight important aspects of these pressing issues.  I don’t usually share these pieces with you (though of course I would be happy to).

This week, I wrote a letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu, regarding his decision to renege on his promise to create an egalitarian prayer space at the Kotel.  I also addressed his and his government’s actions to solidify the ultra-Orthodox rabbinate’s control over determining which conversions to recognize or not.  I believe that these actions further delegitimize Reform Jews, and further fragment the Jewish People.  If you’d like to read my letter, you can find it at A Place for all- Netanyahu letter

If this is an issue that is important to you, here are some things you can do:

Sign here to sign a letter from the  New Israel Fund at NIF letter for CC

Let leaders in the Jewish world know that you support their efforts to pressure Prime Minister Netanyahu to reverse this latest decision.  Send messages to:

*Rabbi Rick Jacobs, head of the Union for Reform Judaism:  presURJ@urj.org

*The leadership at the National Jewish Federations: info@JewishFederations.org

*Nancy Greer, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle:  nancybg@jewishinseattle.org

Make a donation to one of the organizations that are working hard to ensure that there is religious pluralism in Israel-not only for those of us living today, but also for future generations.  Here are a few:

*The Shalom Hartman Institute:  https://hartman.org.il/

*The Israel Religious Action Center – IRAC:  http://www.irac.org/mission.aspx

*Women of the Wall Nashot HaKotel:  http://www.womenofthewall.org.il/

*AJC – Global Jewish Advocacy:  http://www.ajc.org

I know that there are so many other things happening locally and nationally that also deserve our attention.  I hope to be sharing more of my own responses and suggested action items with you in the coming months.  I also hope to offer another opportunity for those of us who would like to come together to offer one another support in these challenging times.  In the meantime, our Tikkun Olam Committee has been strategizing about ways we might respond as a community; if you would like more information contact Tikkun Olam at tikkunolam@khnseattle.org

However each one of us chooses to respond to the pressing issues of our day, I hope and pray that by working together and using our collective power and energy, we can more effectively bring about positive change in our world.

L’tzedek V’shalom (toward justice and peace),

Shabbat Shalom.

Rabbi Zari