Wow! It’s been an exciting few days at the Brickner Rabbinic Seminar. Sponsored by the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, along with CLAL (the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership), the seminar kicked off a year-plus program of study, engagement and practical application for a group of 18 rabbinic fellows dedicated to social justice advocacy (for more info about the program, visit www.rac.org/brickner). I am proud and privileged to be one of the participants selected for this exciting endeavor.
For four days, we learned together with some of the great social justice experts and practitioners from the Reform movement and the broader Jewish world. We looked at a range of topics – from community organizing to lobbying skills – with a specific eye on methodology for excavating our sacred text and tradition to give voice to all sides of issues to strengthen our positions about them. Initially, I understand one of the goals of our work to be sharpening our tool kit in working with people – constituents, politicians, even adversaries – to build respectful coalitions in addressing matter of social concern. Of course the strength that our group brings to the task is the specific mindset of being rabbis, mining the richness of Jewish heritage in crafting serious conversations about such topics.
So here I sit at BWI airport, delayed on my way home, having just the initial chance to reflect on the week’s events. First and foremost, I am delighted to have such a wonderful, diverse, intelligent and dedicated group of colleagues as my chevra on this journey. They have already made the process more than worthwhile. And a couple of key teachings have already emerged: “power is a person’s interest in the interest of others”; “religion should never be used to coerce political action”; and “sacredness is found in the web of relationships.”
For now, I’m going to try to catch a flight home. I’d love to hear your reflections. This way, you can help make my journey even richer.