Rabbinic Words of Wisdom At a Time of Crisis
While a peaceful inauguration took place January 20 on the steps of the U.S. Capitol, the country is still reeling from the riots at the very same building by members of an angry mob on January 6. As Congress continues to consider impeachment, and friends debate freedom of speech and Big Tech overreach, rabbis responded to the attack with what words of wisdom they could provide.
Jesse Olitzky, 36, a Conservative rabbi in South Orange, New Jersey, says he had been reading “raw and powerful words of Torah” from colleagues when Menachem Creditor, 45, a Conservative rabbi in Manhattan reached out to him, suggesting that they solicit such responses for a compilation.
Within a week, they had put together a self-published book, Remember and Do Not Forget, which comprises essays from 46 American rabbis across the religious, political and geographical spectrums.
Creditor is no novice at spearheading compilations by Jewish writers. This is his 12th such book. “The collective voice of American rabbis, who often worry about alienating politically diverse community members, was fiery and honest in the aftermath of this assault on our national Holy of Holies,” Creditor says.
“The compilation serves as a snapshot in time, and focuses on how we process hate, and the tragic consequences of that bigotry through Torah and teachings of our faith,” Olitzky says.
The book includes a foreword by Ruth Messinger, a former president of the American Jewish World Service and political leader in New York City. “It is our job to protect this republic,” Messinger writes. “To me, that means ‘leaning in,’ acknowledging our role in strengthening voting rights, picking elected officials who we believe will engage directly on making social change on our behalf, sticking with unpopular causes and organizing with others in our shul community, in our other organizations to pursue the changes that are needed. It means listening to and learning from others what safeguards are not in place that should be and organizing to create those.”
Reading the essays within, one can easily look to the newly installed president asking the country for unification, and ask, “How do we learn from the past and move forward to a more peaceful future?” Some answers might just be found within this book.