Shabbat Evening Service
From the desk of Rabbi David Lyon
Don’t cite Biblical verses. Don’t make historical references. Don’t recite poetry and rhymes. When we forcibly separate children and parents, for any reason, we violate and ignore every natural human instinct. It makes monsters of us. Monsters don’t listen or learn. They distort biblical verses; they refuse historical references; and, they belittle poetry and rhymes. They feel nothing but a ferocious and unfed appetite for destruction and mayhem. Thankfully, millions of compassionate people in the U.S. and around the world spoke with moral authority and refused to be complicit. This week, the order to destroy families was overturned with another powerful stroke of another presidential pen.
Suffering isn’t unfamiliar to us. Every day, we fail to abolish suffering, but not because we fail to recognize it. We fail to abolish it because limited resources are deployed to address other, perhaps more resolvable, crises. But, we know suffering is there. In most cases, we haven’t failed to do something about it. The difference in our current environment is that our nation’s leaders created suffering. They took the path of least resistance and succumbed to their basest human instincts wrapped in warped interpretations of sacred texts and history. It was so appalling that most Americans, and national and world leaders, were provoked into action. When the Pope admonishes the president, even Jews understand the significance.
Unfortunately, residual and long-term suffering will persist among the children who will not be easily reunited with their parents. The authorities who created this suffering cannot be trusted to account for the souls that have been affected, and they cannot be trusted with telling the families or us the whole truth. It’s a blight on our nation’s duty to humanity and an omen of this administration’s unwillingness to assign the nation’s most intransient problems — not just immigration — to the nation’s best and brightest minds in science, technology, ecology, education, economics, energy, etc.
Nevertheless, we can be hopeful. Millions of Americans, non-profit and faith organizations used their collective voices to create change. The same groups will see to it that the best outcome for the families will be realized. Some hurt will remain, but much more hope will be found.
This week, please do the following:
1) Set aside political excuses about illegal immigration, and suspend irrational fears about the families who arrived on the border;
2) Read emails from Congregation Beth Israel to learn about ways you can help. The whole Houston Jewish community is involved and engaged in worthy projects to bring families together, again, and restore the faith of the world in the United States of America;
3) Add a prayer of gratitude for the values of our nation and our faith that still measures its greatness on how we treat the most vulnerable among us. Let it always be a reflection of love, compassion, and mercy.
From my family — our four children and daughter-in-law, and my wife, Lisa — Shabbat Shalom.
Rabbi David A. Lyon is Senior Rabbi at Congregation Beth Israel in Houston, TX. Rabbi Lyon serves on the Board of Trustees of the Central Conference of American Rabbis and chairs its professional development committee. He can be heard on “iHeart-Radio” KODA 99.1 FM, every Sunday at 6:45 a.m. CT, and is the author of God of Me: Imagining God Throughout Your Lifetime (Jewish Lights 2011) available on Amazon.com.