—Rabbi Jonathan Malamy, Director of Meaningful Life
Good Morning Jewish Home Manhattan
Today is Monday, June 1.
For a few weeks I was saving up a particular song for today’s message. It starts off like this:
I like New York in June. How about you?
I like a Gershwin tune, how about you?
I love a fireside, when a storm is due
I like potato chips, moonlight, motor trips, how about you?
I love that song. And indeed, I do like New York, and I like it in June. But the light mood of that song just doesn’t fit New York or this June or, for that matter this America.
We are now months into the coronavirus pandemic, an ordeal we are living through and, at least in our facility, coming through well. The community of The New Jewish Home has worked with diligence and persistence, courage and strength. Still, residents and patients struggle with being cooped up. And staff contend with fear and the ordeals of PPE (which we are nevertheless blessed to have in sufficient quantities). All these are burdens that weigh down the soul of every person living and working at The New Jewish Home. Yet they have not defeated us.
The New Jewish Home affirms seven values and one of them is Pursue Justice. I associate it strongly with Deuteronomy 16:20. Tzedek, tzedek, tirdof. “Justice, justice, shall you pursue.” And we can not even begin to pursue justice until we acknowledge and call out injustice in our midst.
Each person must ask themselves what must I do? What must I say? It’s a different answer for each one. We each stand in our own circumstance, with our own history. Each of us has our own challenges and each benefit from our own privileges. But none of us is exempt from the obligation to pursue justice and even if that task is overwhelming, we must each do a piece. And the more we have, the more we owe. One of the rabbis of the Talmud instructs, “It is not your duty to complete the task, but neither may you consider yourself exempt.”
So I return to the lyric from the start. How about you?
How about each of us and all of us? What must we do to provide care and seek justice for all our brothers and sisters, for black and brown people, for all people of color, for all the indigenous people among whom we live, for all LGBT folks, for people with disabilities? How about you?
This is our shared responsibility, as individual human beings, and members of a community, and as part of an institution, The New Jewish Home, committed to justice and to care.
It is our shared responsibility to make it so: globally around the word and locally in our workplace, here in our home of New York.
Empire State of Mind (Part II) Broken Down by Alicia Keyes