A Blog for Rabbi Jason Rosenberg of Congregation Beth Am in Tampa.
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Tuesday, March 17, 2015
The Reverend's Call to Justice
[I'm currently at the annual CCAR (Reform Rabbis) conference in Philadelphia. I was asked to write a guest blog for the CCAR's blog. So, this is written for other Rabbis, but I hope you'll find it interesting, too].
So, when I was asked to write a blog piece for this conference, I happily accepted. There are always things to write about after a couple of days, right? What I failed to account for is how busy I would be this time. I can’t remember a conference where I had so little down time. The sessions are coming rapid fire, and there hasn’t been a moment where I haven’t wanted or needed to be somewhere. I’ve barely had time to breathe, let alone write!
So, in these few minutes in between the State of the CCAR address and dinner with friends, let me share one moment with you.
For the past two years, I’ve been involved with Rabbis Organizing Rabbis (ROR) [ed: it's a group of Reform Rabbis using a Community Organzing model, focussing on Social Justice issues] , but not as much as I should have been. The urgent has far too often gotten in the way of the important, and Justice hasn’t been at the forefront of my Rabbinate, as it should be.
But then, late in today’s (very well attended) meeting, Peter Berg got up to speak, and he referenced the amazing speech (sermon, really) we heard yesterday from Dr. Reverend William Barber [ed: he's the founder of the Moral Monday movement in North Carolina, and one hell of a preacher]. It was a firery, passionate call to justice. But, as Rabbi Berg pointed out, it didn’t really contain any new information. We all knew, more or less, about all of the issues he raised; we all know how terrible they are. What we forget is how deeply we have to care. And, as Rabbi Berg said, what we really forget is that this is why we became Rabbis in the first place. We didn’t become Rabbis to help kids with their Haftarah blessings (as important as that is), or to work with the House Committee (as important as that is). We became Rabbis to change the world. We became Rabbis to inspire people, to move people, to challenge people, and to help people. We became Rabbis to bring more justice into the world.
For me, it’s time to draw a line. It’s time to stop letting the urgent take center stage, and to start making time for what is truly important. And, for you? Will you commit to ROR, to do a little, or a lot? Will you commit in some other way to bringing more justice into the world? Will you commit, will you re-commit, to the vision and ideals which brought you here in the first place?
The good Reverend helped me to remember why I’m really here (with an assist from Rabbi Berg). Hopefully, he can inspire us all.