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45http://www.beth-israel.org/blog/2011/04/Rabbi-Lyon%27s-Blog---04_15_2011
Rabbi Lyon's Blog - 04_15_2011
04/13/2011 11:01 AM Posted by:

From the Desk of Rabbi David Lyon
April 15, 2011

 

                You thought I was going to write about tax day, but this year the deadline is April 18th, for reasons unclear to me. Like the Israelites’ offering before fleeing Egypt, maybe our tax bill is our last offering before beginning our Seder this year. In any event, I am confident that having mailed your tax return by the deadline, you will be able to sit more like a free person than ever before as Seder begins on Monday evening.

                The coincidence of tax day and Passover should not be lost on us. The fact that we pay taxes as citizens and not as serfs or slaves speaks volumes about the real journey our people has made. Though we have enjoyed relative freedom in other lands at different times in history, there is no question but that Jews and Judaism have enjoyed a relative golden age in America. I don’t mean to overstate the case. It didn’t come without paying a price that included overcoming quotas, bigotry and anti-Semitism; but, in overcoming it in large measure, Jewish men and women have played and still play significant roles in shaping our nation’s future. Thus, the taxes we pay today support our way of life and the values we espouse as Americans and as Jews.

                We aren’t always satisfied with the way our taxes are being used, but our participation in our democracy permits us to elect those who will represent us. And, even when our candidate loses, there are many civil and meaningful ways to effect change, anyway. At Beth Israel, we promote the Jewish value of “Tikkun Olam” to repair the world through active participation on local and state levels. Our Tikkun Olam Committee represents us in promoting Jewish values. Letters to Austin legislators, participation in parts of TMO’s initiatives, and hands-on work at home on Mitzvah Day demonstrate real ways to make a real difference. Taxes serve a Jewish value when we contribute to a social network that provides for us and for those who are out of sight and sometimes out of reach. Our social safety-net, so called, is part of our responsibility as a society, and our taxes and charitable contributions maintain it.

                This Passover, our hope is bound up in our people’s prayer that Jerusalem will be at peace in the hands of a strong Israel; and, that we who live in Houston, will always know peace at home in America. At your Seder table next week, you might include this passage from the prophet Amos (9:15),

 

“I will plant them upon their land, and they will never again be uprooted from the land which I have given them.”

 

It is our duty to stand with our people wherever they may live. In Beth Israel, we stand with Israel, through our Israel Advocacy Committee and its commitment to a strong US-Israel relationship; and, we stand with America, the place to which our ancestors came with dreams of religious freedom, prosperity and peace. Let’s say “Amen” to their dreams, our hopes, and the promise of tomorrow founded on the words we share, “Next Year in Jerusalem!” Peace today and always.

                From my family to yours, Shabbat Shalom and Happy Passover.

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