Our Torah portion this week, Shlach, concludes with the commandment to affix tzitzit, fringes, on the corners of our garments. They are meant to be a reminder of our responsibility to do mitzvot. When we glance at our tzitzit, they will jog our memory so that we will always know who we are, where we have come from, and what is most essential.
The passage concludes, “I Adonai am your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God: I, your God Adonai.” Our rabbis teach that when we recite this passage twice daily, morning and evening, and when we wear tzitzit, we fulfill the mitzvah to remember the Exodus from Egypt.
In Jewish life, our story of emerging from slavery to freedom is central. We tell it over and over again throughout the calendar year. Our story fuels our work to build a world that looks different from the one under Pharaoh’s rule; a world where all human beings are viewed as beloved children of God.
So, too, in the United States of America, our history of slavery, of the enslavement of humans of African descent and the struggle for liberation, is foundational to our collective identity. African American culture, spirituality and resilience are core to who we are as a nation. As we strive to build a truly just and equitable society, it is essential to know the stories of our American past and how they shape who we are today.
On Monday, our country will observe Juneteenth, a holiday commemorating the events of June 19th, 1865, on which an order was issued proclaiming freedom for slaves in Texas. While it has been celebrated for centuries by African American communities, Juneteenth was established as a federal holiday in 2021.
In our Montgomery County and Quince Orchard communities, this Juneteenth, we will be joining with others across lines of race and faith to celebrate together and deepen our relationships. Shaare Torah’s Social Action Committee has been working with leaders from Fairhaven United Methodist Church, Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, and other neighboring congregations to plan a fabulous
Family Interfaith Juneteenth Celebration
Monday evening, June 19th
Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, 11900 Darnestown Road.
Many of our fellow MoCo congregations who have been delving into conversations about racial justice, equity and belonging through the Sea Change fellowship this year will also be participating in celebrations across our region. All are invited to join for the Annual Scotland Juneteenth Heritage Festival in Potomac on Monday (9-4 pm), celebrating the past and present of Scotland AME Zion Church, one of the first places African Americans owned land in Montgomery County.
This Shabbat, we pray that we will continue to get to know our neighbors, and all the stories that are essential to who we are as a country and as a Jewish people.
May we weave a collective with the power to advance liberation for Black Americans along with all people who ache to be free.