We Will All Go!

header shabbat blog Annie

These winter weeks, in our Torah, we read the story of our people’s liberation from Egypt; the triumphs and setbacks, the twists and turns.

This Shabbat, in Parashat Bo, after many asks of “let our people go,” surrounded by swarms of locust, the frozen-hearted Pharaoh calls Moses and Aaron back to the palace. He says to them – “Alright already. Go! Go worship your God.” And then Pharaoh asks, “But who are the ones who will go? Mi va-Mi ha’hol’chim?”

Moses responds, “We will all go. We will go with our young ones and with our elders. We will go with our sons and with our daughters. We will go with our flocks and our herds. All of us. We will all go – we will leave no one behind.”

Like so many “pharaohs” throughout history who have tried to hold onto power by tearing others apart, Pharaoh won’t have it.

Moses and Aaron insist,

We will all go.

They know that this is the key to liberation.

As the Jewish woman poet, Emma Lazarus, wrote,

“Until we are all free, we are none of us free.”

Until we are all free, we are none of us free.

We have so much work to do

in our communities, our country, our world,

To undo the hatred, antisemitism, racism, ableism and ageism – all the isms that divide us.

It is so powerful that our ancestors say –

We must all go out of Mitzrayim!

We will leave no one behind.

Until we are all free, we are none of us free.

This is at the core of who we are at Shaare Torah. We understand that our mission is to create a community of belonging, where all people are seen, known, and celebrated for who we are are in our fullness, both within our Jewish community and in the city, county, state, and country where we live.

Today, on this International Holocaust Remembrance Day, I am pained by numerous incidents of swastikas drawn on the premises of our Montgomery County public schools just this past week, let alone the other instances of antisemitic vandalism around our county this year.

Devorah Stavitsky of Jews United for Justice wrote this week,

“Threats to Jewish safety are part of the same machinery that endangers so many other marginalized communities. And they are used to try to divide Jews against our non-Jewish neighbors — antisemitic graffiti and other messages are efforts to keep us from joining together to win the things we all need to work, live, and flourish.”

In Devorah’s words, I hear Moses’ insistence, “We Will All Go!”

I hear Emma Lazarus reminding us, “Until we are all free, we are none of us free.”

Earlier this week, as the Chinese American community marked the Lunar New Year, we mourned the devastating loss of 18 people in two mass shootings in Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay, California. This violence took place amidst a backdrop of rising Anti-Asian hate crimes the past few years.

And as we prepare for Shabbat, our country is bracing ourselves for the public release of video footage of the violence against Tyre Nichols, a 29 year-old Black man, at the hands of Memphis law enforcement officers earlier this month that led to his death three days later.

Our hearts are with the family of Tyre Nichols.

Our hearts are with the loved ones of the victims of the shootings in California.

Our hearts are with our Shaare Torah community members who are people of color.

Our hearts are with our Black, Brown, and Asian neighbors.

We pray for justice.

We pray for peace.

Sunday morning, I will leave for a Rabbinic and Communal Leaders Civil Rights Mission to Alabama with our Jewish Federation of Greater Washington.

Our group will spend five days visiting historic sites, navigating challenging questions, exploring our role and responsibilities as Jewish American leaders to reckon with difficult aspects of our country’s past, and address our country’s ongoing legacy of terror, violence, and slavery. I look forward to sharing our learning with our community along the way and when I return.

I am hopeful for the work we can do together,

to build toward a world where all are free.

Shabbat Shalom.