My Words at the Moral Monday Protest in Raleigh

2 Jul

Beth El on the Road with Susan Jacobs, Rabbi Judy, Betsy Rosen, Phyllis Schultz, and Mindy Passe

Beth El on the Road with Susan Jacobs, Rabbi Judy, Betsy Rosen, Phyllis Schultz, and Mindy Passe

Standing with Clergy from Across the State

Standing with Clergy from Across the State

Teaching the Torah of Helping the Needy

Teaching the Torah of Helping the Needy

It is well past midnight and I just returned with two cars full of congregants from a Moral Monday Protest in Raleigh. In light of our longstanding Beth El commitment to poverty, education, and affordable housing, I shared my concerns with the thousands who were there on the Halifax Mall in front of the North Carolina State Legislative Building. Here are my words:

To Governor McCrory and our North Carolina Legislators,

My name is Rabbi Judy Schindler and I am Senior Rabbi of Temple Beth El in Charlotte.  My congregants and I have driven many miles to be here today because North Carolina is our home and because we care.

As Jews, our sanctuaries must have windows so that we can see the world outside. Our prayers should move us beyond ourselves so that we can see more plainly the plight of our world.  That is what called us to join you today.

As a congregation our social justice and action priorities are education, poverty, affordable housing, and domestic abuse. Our members give daily their time, talent and funds to lift up the needy as is in the Jewish tradition.

In Genesis, God created all of us b’tzelem Elohim – in the image of God. 

This tenet gives us human rights.  The Talmud teaches that we were all created from one human being so that no person can say, “My ancestor is greater than yours.” The sages say we were created “from the four corners of the earth – yellow clay and white sand, black loam and red soil — so that the earth can declare to no part of humanity that it does not belong here, that this soil is not its rightful home.”  

B’tzelem Elohim – in the image of God we all were created.

This tenet gives us responsibilities.  We are required to create a world that supports, rather than subjugates others. We are called to honor the image of Divine in everyone. In 2012, there were 4,992 homeless children in our Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools. 600,000 children in our state live in poverty.  I fear what today’s termination of unemployment benefits to 70,000 individuals will do.

In the Jewish faith, the highest level of supporting the needy is job creation. We must invest in that goal. Yet when jobs are not to be had (there is 8.8% unemployment in our state, the fifth highest in our country), we are called not to abandon the needy but to provide for them. The problem of lifting up the impoverished cannot be solved alone by houses of worship working in soup kitchens and opening their social halls to the homeless. As faith communities, we are doing our part. We are relying on you, as State leaders, to do yours and not hurt the most vulnerable. 

We embrace the value of fiscal responsibility.  We want to leave the strongest legacy for our children.  Education is that key. Studies shows that children who do not read by third grade are more likely to drop out of school or be incarcerated later in life, yet as leaders, you have cut reading aids in the most critical grades. Education leads to employment. Education leads away from crime. Education is an economic investment.

The Jewish tradition values teachers.  According to the Mishnah we are meant to honor our teachers in the same way that we honor God.  We are required to pay them liberally and to make sure that their classes are small enough so that they can effectively teach.   You have limited teacher pay increases and taken away economic incentives for educational and professional advancement at a time when North Carolina is already 46th in the nation in teacher pay.

 B’tzelem Elohim – in the image of God we all were created.

The tenet means that we are endowed with qualities of understanding and discernment.  Legislators of our State, we are pleading with you to use the minds and hearts you have been given to work in partnership with us to find a more positive path.

 You have chosen to pursue these political positions to make a difference – a value that we appreciate. Yet the sweeping decisions you believe will put us financially on firmer ground will have the opposite effect. The difference you are making is going in the wrong direction. Judaism values debate for the sake of a God. Please allow us to enter the debate with you, so that we can find a stronger solution.

B’tzelem Elohim – in the image of God we all were created.

May we actualize our potential and use our partnership to lift our state educationally and economically and acknowledge the dignity and humanity of all.

by Rabbi Judy Schindler

 

 

4 Responses to “My Words at the Moral Monday Protest in Raleigh”

  1. kangarubop@yahoo.com July 2, 2013 at 6:37 pm #

    Thank you Rabbi Schindler you are an awesome Rabbi.

  2. Marian Woertz Brawer July 2, 2013 at 9:14 pm #

    Thank you so much for doing this. We can make a difference and standing up for our Jewish values, to respect and enable the humanity of all our NC citizens, is core to our mission as Jews.

  3. Betsy Garfinkle July 2, 2013 at 9:33 pm #

    Most eloquently presented. So happy to be a part of Temple and support our Rabbi’s efforts. Betsy Garfinkle

    Sent from my Kindle Fire

    _____________________________________________

  4. Rabbi Judy Schindler July 18, 2013 at 10:48 am #

    My words at the Moral Monday rally have elicited overwhelming support from a broad range of congregants and community members, on one hand, and on the other, our traveling to Raleigh has sparked some passionate disagreement from a handful of Beth El members. As a Rabbi, I value all the voices within our congregation. I recognize that we are large and vibrant community with many differing views on religious issues, political issues, and all issues. The value of debate is esteemed in Judaism. I welcome those with differing views to engage with me in dialogue. When I make a decision to take a stand, it is done with the deepest deliberation. I consult our leadership and those within our congregation who have opposing opinions. As a congregation we invest time, talent and resources in supporting education and affordable housing. I felt my words were aligned with stands that our Board, congregation, and, most certainly, our Reform Movement has taken.

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