Rabbi Denise Hand­larski

The Canadian Jewish News (Montreal) - - Parshah -

We are liv­ing in a ten­u­ous time. Now, more than ever, we need our Jewish com­mu­nity to lean on and to work for so­cial bet­ter­ment. The To­rah has some­thing to teach us about this.

See­ing the lead­er­ship of his peo­ple, Jethro, Moses’ fa­ther-in-law, is im­pressed, but he also cau­tions Moses that “the thing you are do­ing is not right; you will surely wear your­self out, and th­ese peo­ple as well. For the task is too heavy for you; you can­not do it alone.” Many of us see our­selves as part of a lib­er­a­tion strug­gle. Whether it is an op­po­si­tion to xeno­pho­bia, Is­lam­o­pho­bia and racism, a de­sire to see ac­tion on cli­mate change, deep con­cern for hu­man rights for women and the LGBTQ com­mu­nity, the con­tin­u­ing shame­ful treat­ment of in­dige­nous Cana­di­ans, we see that there is in­deed much work to do. And some­times the task seems too heavy.

Moses was a leader, and we need strong lead­ers now, but he could not do his work alone, and nei­ther can our lead­ers to­day. None of us can do it all, and nor should we. Whether it’s elected lead­ers, re­li­gious or cul­tural lead­ers, or lead­ers of so­cial move­ments, lead­er­ship is noth­ing with­out broad-based, holis­tic, demo­cratic and par­tic­i­pa­tory en­gage­ment. More­over, we all win when we work to­gether to cre­ate change, to bring forth lib­er­a­tion. The act of work­ing to­gether is part of the lib­er­a­tion it­self.

I have been heart­ened to see Jewish com­mu­ni­ties ev­ery­where stand­ing up against in­jus­tice. Across the whole Jewish spec­trum, we are united in our de­sire for jus­tice and peace for all peo­ple. I am heart­ened by the car­ing and con­cern I’ve wit­nessed in my own con­gre­ga­tion, and be­tween con­gre­ga­tions and move­ments. We can­not do this work alone. We need each other. I’m with you.

Rabbi Denise Hand­larski is spir­i­tual leader of Oraynu Con­gre­ga­tion for Hu­man­is­tic Ju­daism in Toronto.

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