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Wake Up!

04/22/2021 10:29:22 AM


I’m not “woke” nor am I trying to be.  I don’t know where the expression first came from but I do know that it now feels like an equal opportunity malapropism, employed by both sides of the political spectrum to denigrate the other – the “woke” vs. the “unwoke.” 

While this term may feel like an already exhausted, but newly formed simile, the truth is that inspiring leaders and holy texts have been lobbing this construct at human beings for as long as we have had the capacity to lift our heads to see the truth.  Rosh Hashanah is still quite a ways off, but the call of the Shofar is meant to ring in our hearts and minds all year long.  On Rosh Hashanah, we read words written by the Rambam in the 12th century. 

Uru y’sheinim mishnatchem - Awake, you sleepers from your sleep!

V’nirdamim hakitzu mitardeimatchem! - Rouse yourselves, you slumberers, out of your slumber!

Watching the video of George Floyd’s murder should foster a completely intuitive recognition of the events that occurred.  Not a comprehension, but a recognition.  The recognition is that were it not for Officer Chauvin’s knee on George Floyd’s neck, George Floyd would not have died that day, lying face down in a Minnesota street.  The video showing 9+ minutes of this should have been enough.  It’s almost a farce to act as if a trial was necessary, except for our nation’s sacred commitment to a fair trial for all.  So the testimonies and witness accounts came through that courtroom, and the jury delivered the verdict.  Guilty.  Guilty.  Guilty. 

And yet, we, as a society still need to be awakened.  The shofar blasts that call for justice and righteousness and equality before God are quieted too quickly.  Let us not turn down the volume.  Let us raise our eyes, lift our voices, and declare a moratorium on slumber.  This is the fierce urgency of now that we must awaken to.  We cannot keep our eyes shut.  We cannot unsee what so many of our Black sisters and brothers have known and witnessed for far, far too long. 

And here’s a first step in being part of the solution.  I am very excited to offer our community a rather unique way to observe Shavuot this year.  On Sunday, May 16th, from 3-5 pm, participants from the Shma Koleinu and greater Houston Jewish communities will participate together on Zoom with members of the St Marks UMC Church in Wichita, KS, in “100 Voices.”  “100 Voices,” created and led by Tracie Jae, is a curated, authentic and grace-filled conversation on race and culture for black people and white people.  In the spirit of Shavuot that seeks to inspire us with the notion that, at Sinai, we heard God, and we were heard, may we all double down in our efforts to listen and to share, and to uncover the often, invisible walls that keep us separate and subject to incongruous and unequal forces.  For more information, go to:


Mon, September 27 2021 21 Tishrei 5782