"You shall not stand by while your neighbour’s blood is shed.” (Leviticus 19:16)
Are you willing to “take the knee”? When a senior member of the government can state that this peaceful action comes from “Game of Thrones”, he is showing either great ignorance, or an absence of empathy, or wilful aforethought. In today’s UK society, I find all of these problematic, not on political (let alone party political) grounds, but on religious and moral grounds.
I know I am on a life-long journey of learning and updating my thinking, so that I am not guilty of ignorance. I appreciate that I can never fully understand what someone else’s life is like, however similar or different they are to me. I seek to check my words and actions before I commit to them, so that they’re not cruel or self-serving. And I have to be willing to forgive myself for not getting these decisions correct every time.
We know that our neighbours’ blood has been and is being shed. Elie Wiesel z”l, whose yahrzeit fell this week, taught: “We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” Our community cannot and will not be silent bystanders when others are being made victims of racism or other forms of discrimination.
Please join us to extend your learning journey tomorrow morning, when we are privileged to welcome Professor David Abulafia to join our service and speak to us. Join us next Thursday, when Dalia Fleming will speak to our community. Details of both these speakers can be found on our events page. And, yes, I am willing to take the knee.
Rabbi Richard Jacobi