Climbing Toward Repair 5781

Yesterday was the pits. In the Jewish calendar, Tisha B’av [the 9th day of the 11th month; July 29-30 in 2020] is the lowest point of “the Three Weeks” of progressively deeper mourning and reading of prophetic chastisements. Today, we begin the slow climb up, through the seven weeks of comfort and Elul’s wake-up calls, toward the new year. Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of the new year, 5781, coincides with Sep 18-20, 2020 in the Gregorian calendar.

The prophetic reading from last week — known as the “Sabbath of Vision” — warns us to take heed NOW in our preparations for the coming holiday season:

Your new moons and fixed seasons
Fill Me with loathing; [this is God speaking]
They are become a burden to Me,
And when you lift up your hands,
I will turn My eyes away from you;
Though you pray at length, I will not listen.
Your hands are stained with crime
I cannot endure them.
Wash you, make you clean,
put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes,
cease to do evil; learn to do well;
seek justice, relieve the oppressed,
judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.
“Come, let us reach an understanding, —says the LORD.
Be your sins like crimson, They can turn snow-white;
Be they red as dyed wool, They can become like fleece.”
– Isaiah 1:14-18

It won’t be enough to mark the high holidays, recite the proper words, hear the shofar [ram’s horn], and skip some meals. None of that, by itself, will create change, for us or for the wider world. So, now is the time to reflect and prepare, to move from the mournful “How?!” of Lamentations, read on Tisha B’av, to the “how?” of individual and collective action to repair our relationships and the world around us.

For white Jews in particular, now is the time — we have seven weeks beginning today — to redouble our efforts to face our history, our role in systems that uphold white supremacy, and the work ahead of us in dismantling those systems.

For each of the weeks and days ahead, let’s commit to learning and building toward #Repair5781.

Visit Repair5781 Page for some resources.

One Seven Times Seven Reality (Beyond 9)

“What the deaths of Garner, Brown and Scott do have in common are individuals who didn’t want to go to jail and cops who wanted to take them there,” wrote Peter Moskos, in yesterday’s Washington Post.

“[They] didn’t want to go to jail.”

This may seem too obvious to mention.

And Moskos’ suggestion that our country “stop criminalizing so many people” as “one logical way to reduce potentially deadly arrest situations” may also seem obvious.

Before moving on to solutions, however, it’s important to stick with our exploration of oppression. Let’s pause to consider just a few of the basic realities of imprisonment in this country.
prisongraph
As we continue our 7 X 7 (seven week) journey in the omer, let’s just make sure that we absorb these realities:

  • Black children are seven times more likely than their peers to have an incarcerated parent.
  • Children with incarcerated parents are seven times more likely to end up in prison themselves.
  • Here is a a link to four pertinent reports with much more on this topic.

Blu Greenberg’s comment quoted yesterday, about this week’s Torah portion suggests that we might try — for one evening at least — not to analyze or prescribe but instead simply mourn for the suffering across generations that this represents.

We counted 9 on the evening of April 12. Tonight, we count….
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