Tuesday, July 9, some 200 mostly young Jewish protesters gathered at the Spirit of Justice Park near the Cannon House Office building to protest the despicable immigration policies of the Trump administration. The gathering was organized by a relatively new nationwide grassroots group called Never Again Action. The local group is known as Never Again DC. Several other Jewish groups were present including Jews United for Justice, Habonim, Hill Havurah, Shirat HaNefesh, Temple Sinai, New Synagogue and us.
What is most impressive is the passion of this younger generation for social justice and living out prophetic and progressive Jewish values. They are making strong connections with our history as a people that has experienced oppression, victimizations and alienation throughout time. Fighting for the rights of immigrants at our southern border, decrying the concentration-like camp conditions and the incarceration of children is all too well known to our people.
That these young people yesterday felt that, is a sign of Jewish vitality life and reawakening that I have not felt as strongly, since I did during the 60's when thousands of young Jews swelled the ranks of the Civil Rights Movement, the anti-Vietnam War Movement, and Soviet Jewish Freedom Movement.
In 1969, fifty years ago, I was reminded of the time I, along with several thousand other anti-war activists invaded Fort Dix in New Jersey to free the political prisoners! Hundreds of MPs from Fort Meade were flown in to protect the military base! This action made the news! We were forced off the base with tear gas and loaded rifles with bayonets on them. Thank G-d no one was hurt.
Our young people are fired up. Sometimes their message angrily reflect "an us vs. them" disconnect. The demonstration yesterday reflected both anger and maturity. More than a dozen Rabbis and other Jewish communal leaders were present. Eighteen, wearing white, representing Chai-Life, were arrested. A few of us sounded the shofar at the end of the action. (Go to the Never Again Action website.)
In this week's Parsha, Chukat, there is much discussion about the challenges facing the Israelite community in the wilderness. We can learn from their response to internal and external threats and also from the sacrifices of the earlier generation. The Parsha includes the deaths of Miriam and Aaron.
We best honor Miriam by being nurturers ourselves. And we best honor Aaron by being patient, positive and pursuing peace. Kadimah, Reb Davidrs ourselves. And we best honor Aaron by being patient, positive and pursuing peace. Kadimah, Reb David