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- On March 29, 2018
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Friday, May 11, after Qabbalat Shabbat
Alongside other GBIO congregations, Temple Israel is launching a series of community conversations “For Such a Time as This” from now through mid-May. We will hear from all parts of the temple what deeply concerns us so that together we build power to make a difference, both here at TI and in the wider community. The connections we make and the stories we share will build up current initiatives particular to TI, give focus and energy to continuing work on housing, healthcare and criminal justice reform with our GBIO partners, and, equally important, identify leaders and emergent issues.
For a Time Such As This
By Dru Greenwood
I need to speak with you.
These days, perhaps like you, I see the fabric of our democracy shredding before my eyes. It’s shocking. What I assumed was foundational feels unsteady and besmirched. I take that assault personally.
My Crigler forebears came to the new world to flee religious persecution before the American Revolution. Blown off course, their ship landed in the colony of Virginia, where, to pay off their passage they were indentured for 7 years. When they were refused freedom, they filed one of the first law suits in Virginia, won their case, and went on to settle the frontier—the eastern slope of the Shenandoah. They helped build the country I inherited based on their values of learning, service, and gratitude.
I am also Tamar, a daughter of Abraham and Sarah. The Jewish community that welcomed the immigrant that I was taught me the values of compassion and of trust in walking an unknown path like Sarah and Abraham, and the necessity of risk-taking in pursuit of justice like my namesake Tamar. I learned that Sh’ma—deep listening—uncovers the fundamental unity and sacredness of life and that my prayer spoken in a minyan magnifies its power. I knew that freedom and the accountability it demands are a privilege that must be renewed daily.
What I didn’t understand until these times was how lightly I held my rich inheritance of values. Now, the words of Mordecai to Queen Esther at a moment of existential peril ring in my ears: “Who knows; perhaps you attained to your position for just such a time as this.” I am compelled to stop short, re-examine and reaffirm where I stand, with whom I can make common cause, and what legacy I will leave for my grandchildren.
What to do? I’ve marched and signed petitions, and will surely do so again though to what end is unclear. I hope not to have to fight or flee. It appears to me that the best way forward in “just such a time as this” lies in reweaving the ground of community and practicing the art of democracy in all its messiness.
I am grateful for Temple Israel’s engagement with the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization (GBIO), which has given us a tradition of learning the skills of organizing broadly and of helping to shape successful initiatives in healthcare, housing, and criminal justice reform grounded in the cares of people. I want to join in actions that have results. To begin, I must take the risk of sharing my own experience of pain and listening to that of others. The substance of community conversations, here at TI and across the faith communities of GBIO, gives me hope that we can gather strength to avert disaster and advance the common good. Perhaps we will even be able to rejoice.
And so I need to speak with you. We need to speak together.
From now through the end of May, Temple Israel will gather people in “Community Conversations for Such a Time as This.” Organized by your TI-GBIO Core Team and supported by clergy and leaders throughout the congregation, these conversations are just waiting for you. To join a conversation in this time, please let me know of your interest.
Dru Greenwood is co-captain with Michael Rubenstein of TI’s Community Conversations taking place now.