Rabbi’s Reflections – Saturday, June 6, 2020 

Shabbat Shalom,

I’m tasked with writing something for the RR every day.  Since June 27, 2017 I have scarcely missed a day (1,073 days).  There were a couple of weeks when I had some guest writers.  I think it was during my Israel trip with Fellowship Church in 2019.  And I thank God for Raymond Finney who has been writing every Sunday so I can take Shabbat off.  If any of you have something from the Lord and would like to submit it to me for publication, you will get your own by-line.  It can be from the Scripture reading of the day (start with the “question of the day”) or anything else as the Lord leads.  Just send it to rabbi@syknox.org for consideration.  

Up until now, I’ve been pretty quiet regarding the current societal upheaval in America.  I did make my comments in both services last Shabbat (https://www.facebook.com/shomair.yisrael/videos/1153736868313966/) and Sunday (https://www.facebook.com/shomair.yisrael/videos/1154527788234874/) when we celebrated Shavuot (Pentecost) with our beloved friends from Grace & Glory Fellowship Church.  

Let me say this… racism (overt, covert, or on any level) is reprehensible.  It was yesterday, it is today and it will be tomorrow.  Racism has no place in this world.  It is against God’s principle of equality.  Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female—for you are all one in Messiah Yeshua.  Romans 2:11 For there is no partiality with God.  We cannot allow the least among us to define us.  Let me take a moment to share my personal experience with racism.

Rabbi Trail:  I’ve been asked why Jewish people have such an affinity for the African American community.  It’s because we share a history of persecution, slavery, and racism.  I challenge you to watch  the entire movie “Gentleman’s Agreement” starring Gregory Peck.  Got 2 minutes, watch just this clip.  The dialogue is a little hard to follow.  Gregory Peck’s character (pretending to be Jewish) is dating this wealthy non-Jewish lady who is talking to his Jewish friend about a fight she is having with Gregory Peck over an anti-Semitic joke that was told at her dinner party.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lTFzXyqmuiA&list=PLO0fAhonx_7_bAx8x1TpO9v5G0D9Hxg93&index=3

My personal experience with racism comes in the form of anti-Semitism.  Not in its overt, graffiti scrawling, white supremacist ugliness (https://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/synagogue-vandalized-in-fairfax-district-amid-protests/2371400/), but in the subtle comments I hear every once in a while within and without our Shomair community.  

Rabbi Trail:  This is something I want to speak generally into our community at Shomair and the wider “community” of RR readers.  It is not prompted by any one person (or even a group of people) or any one incident (or any groups of incidents).  I have a very short memory of such things.  So, if you’re feeling guilty, stop it.  What’s past is past.  This is not about what you or what anyone else said or did.  It is about the future and how we comport ourselves going forward.  End RT.

When these incidents happen, I rarely count them as malicious.  However; they are hurtful.  They stick out in an uncomfortable way, like an unwelcome guest at a dinner party.  I can tell when they happen because my gut begins to churn.  Typically it’s just a comment about Jews being cheap or stingy.  Sometimes it is about long noses or thick kinky hair.  Occasionally, there are comments about keeping a kosher diet.  Every once in while my kippah or talit will come under attack.  None of this is acceptable.  If necessary, a serious concern can always be raised in private.  

One true test of a disciple is if he/she can be corrected.  Maturity is responding righteously to any level of correction.  Too often, when it is necessary to correct someone in a pastoral way, I find their response is first to become defensive by saying, “I didn’t mean anything by saying that.”  Then they take the next “step out the door,” and leave the congregation.  The difficulty with that response is that the issue goes with them, only to be “burped up” again in another place at a another time.

Let’s focus on some cultural sensitivity.  In every culture, God takes delight in those things that are delightful to Him.  Let’s all value what God values.  God values ALL His people including His people Israel.  Galatians 3:29 And if you belong to Messiah, then you are Abraham’s seed—heirs according to the promise.  We are all the family of God.

On Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) our prayers of repentance are communal in orientation (“We have sinned.”).  Let’s start now, for we all bear the shame of racially motivated sin.  

My parting thought is that this is a “reflection.”  As such, it is a brief synopsis on what I’m hearing from God.  It is not a novel or even a short story.  Therefore; it is not exhaustive, nor intended to be.  Some of these RR’s I like better than others, so it wouldn’t surprise me if the same is true of you.  Shabbat shalom.  Stay thirsty (for Him) my friends.