This week has left many in Boston at a loss for words. The disturbing images of white supremacists and neo-Nazis marching in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the resulting tragic death of Heather Heyer and injury of 19 others has been compounded locally by the appalling repeat act of vandalism at the New England Holocaust Memorial. This Saturday, a march organized by a group united in hatred of feminists and immigrants, among others, will be in Boston.
In my work with Eser, a program of Hebrew College and CJP, I am proud to bring together young people of diverse political and religious affiliations, races, sexual orientations and backgrounds through Jewish learning and conversation.
There is a lot to process, not just this week, but in our current political environment. As one friend and Eser committee member, Dara Freedman-Weiss, wrote to me: “I have been thinking a lot about the Pirkei Avot teaching of ‘mitzvah goreret mitzvah, averah goreret averah’ [one good deed will bring another good deed, one transgression will bring another transgression] in how I respond to the increase in racist, homophobic, xenophobic and anti-Semitic actions and views in America. I am not immune from wanting to react with hate toward hate but work to channel those feelings productively and find impactful ways to respond. I am left hoping and thinking that it is only through mitzvot and not averot that we will progress.“
Like Dara, I believe good deeds are the answer, along with conversation. One great place to start is Judaism’s sacred safe space: the Shabbat table. This weekend I invite you to join OneTable in a grassroots movement of meals across the country dedicated to celebrating diversity, equality and inclusion in the face of fear, division and hate.
Visit OneTable for information on how to host a Shabbat meal, and conversation guides and source sheets for text study.
Need ideas for after Friday night? Consider joining counter-protests in Boston or find other ways to take action. This article from local advocate Stephanie Lowitt and this article from The Nation have some suggestions.
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