Rabbi Lyon’s Blog – 04-28-2017

Rabbi Lyon’s Blog – 04-28-2017

From the Rabbi David Lyon

Tazria-Metzora is one of the least favorite portions in the whole Torah, because it’s about bodily emissions, leprosy, and other taboo subjects. But, it’s a bum rap. If we read it as the rabbis did and we should, the portion urges us to find the sacred and Godly in what is admittedly unfamiliar and unseemly. In this portion in Leviticus, scaly skin afflictions, bodily emissions, and “tzara’at”, commonly translated to mean leprosy, were examined by the priest. His observations rendered a person clean or unclean. If he or she was unclean, then the person would call out, “Unclean, unclean!” and be exempt from the community for a prescribed amount of time. Only until the priest found that the person was clean could re-entry be allowed and with proper gifts and offerings. The goal wasn’t condemnation or exile; the goal was maintenance of a sacred community that aimed for God’s blessing through ritual and ethical deeds.

 

Today, it goes without saying that we understand vastly more about such ancient taboos. But, can it also be said that we’ve done as much as our ancient ancestors not to condemn or exile those who, temporarily or permanently, cannot meet the highest standards of human participation physically, emotionally, or mentally? In Texas, we rank 49 out of 50 states in support for severely mentally retarded children and adults who are living in State Supported Living Centers (SSLC’s). Some children who are otherwise born in love and blessing, nevertheless, fail to thrive as their parents hoped they would, and can’t live at home because their parents don’t possess skills and resources to provide 24/7 care. Their children will never live independently of the SSLC where they currently reside. But, funding in Texas is threatened; SSLC’s are being reduced in number. Residents will be forced to move to other locations sometimes farther from parents and relatives who visit regularly. In other cases, there is no family to visit: their parents are unable or unwilling to visit, or they’re deceased. Reducing care means reducing compassion for children and adults who need it most.

 

If birth is a blessing from God, then we are in no position to judge which births are greater blessings than others. As moral advocates, we must urge our representatives in Austin to act in two significant ways: oppose Senate Bill 602; and, support Senate Bill 547.

 

We oppose SB602, because:

  • We don’t support the consolidation and/or closure of any SSLC’s
  • We don’t support displacing our most vulnerable and innocent loved ones from their homes and communities
  • We don’t support forcing our medically fragile/behaviorally challenged and easily disoriented citizens into a totally inadequate system of group homes
  • We don’t support taking away countless jobs for many hardworking and valued members of the Texas State Employee Union
  • We don’t support a small governor-appointed and agency member “restructuring commission” to usurp or remove the state legislature’s currently held power to affect and/or appeal these very devastating and often deadly decisions

We support SB 547 (companion HB3409) because:

  • We support extending highly specialized services at the SSLC’s to those living in the community with similar complex needs
  • We wish for the Health and Human services executive commissioner to ascertain and establish a list of all applicable SSLC services, and to determine the fees and reimbursement rates for these critical Medicaid programs
  • We feel confident about the prospect of offering many services, which are often only available at SSLC campuses, to the intellectually/developmentally disabled citizens in the community

In Leviticus, the Israelite community didn’t continue its wilderness journey until every member of the community was able to re-enter. Imagine that the highest and holiest deed was to enable a person to mend and be repaired so that the community could remain intact in God’s presence. We’re aware that not every citizen can perform their duties as we do; but, every citizen is a human being whose life depends on us. God’s blessing wasn’t meant for the most fit, alone; it was also meant for the most fit to extend it to those who knew they could count on us to do the right thing with it.

Call or write your representatives in Austin, today. Tell them that you advocate for those who can’t advocate for themselves. Our community can’t move on until everyone is accounted for, and everyone has a fighting chance to know what it means to live in a State that says it values every life.

ASK YOUR SENATOR TO VOTE NO on SB 602 and YES on SB547

SEN. BETTENCOURT 512-463-0107

SEN. BIRDWELL         512-463-0122

SEN. BUCKINGHAM   512-463-0124

SEN. BURTON              512-463-0110

SEN. CAMPBELL         512-463-0125

SEN. CREIGHTON       512-463-0104

SEN. ESTES                  512-463-0130

SEN. GARCIA               512-463-0106

SEN. HALL                    512-463-0102

SEN. HANCOCK           512-463-0109

SEN. HINOJOSA           512-463-0120

SEN. HUFFINES           512-463-0116

SEN. HUFFMAN           512-463-0117

SEN. HUGHES              512-463-0101

SEN. KOLKHORST      512-463-0118

SEN. LUCIO JR.           512-463-0127

SEN. MENENDEZ        512-463-0126

SEN. MILES                  512-463-0113

SEN. NELSON               512-463-0112

SEN. NICHOLS             512-463-0103

SEN. PERRY                 512-463-0128

SEN. RODRIGUEZ       512-463-0129

SEN. SCHWERTNER   512-463-0105

SEN. SELGIER             512-463-0131

SEN. L. TAYLOR         512-463-0111

SEN. V. TAYLOR         512-463-0108

SEN. URESTI               512-463-0119

SEN. WATSON             512-463-0114

SEN. WEST                  512-463-0123

SEN. WHITMIRE        512-463-0115

SEN. ZAFFIRINI         512-463-0121

The Hurricane Harvey Flood Fund

Hurricane Harvey left Houston and surrounding areas in a shambles, but the great people of Houston are banding together to help and heal. Your help is welcome and needed. You may send Gift Cards (Kroger, Target, HEB, Lowe’s, or Visa/Mastercard, etc.) to Congregation Beth Israel. They will be immediately distributed to area neighbors to assist in replacing essential items and children’s school supplies.

You may also Donate directly to Congregation Beth Israel by clicking here. All funds will go directly to aid those who need immediate help. These funds will NOT be held to be allocated later. On behalf of our clergy (Rabbi David Lyon, Rabbi Adrienne Scott, Rabbi Joshua Herman, Rabbi Chase Foster, and Cantor Trompeter), David Scott, Executive Director, and Bruce Levy, Temple President, we are very grateful for your kindness, generosity, and help.

Hurt has no shame and no label; we just need to heal one another.

Rabbi David Lyon

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