In the coming weeks leading up to the November election, I will post relevant Jewish texts articulating liberal Jewish values and principles that can be applied to a variety of issues that America faces in health care, the economy, the poor, the environment, immigration, equality, criminal justice reform, antiSemitism, racism, Islamophobia, homophobia, Israel, and foreign policy with special emphasis on the values and policy positions of the Biden-Harris campaign.
I do so as one of hundreds of Rabbis that support Joe Biden for President and Kamala Harris for Vice President. The texts I will share largely were collected by “Rabbis for Biden,” a national organization of rabbis from all Jewish religious streams who believe that the Trump-Pence Administration has and continues to undermine our democratic system of government and democratic norms, the U.S. Constitution, Jewish moral and ethical principles, and America’s standing as a respected world leader.
I ask you to consider distributing these blogs to anyone who is interested in what the vast majority of liberal American Jews believe (according to all polls) to Democrats, Independents, lapsed Republicans, Never Trump Republicans, people who do not like Trump but are not yet convinced to support the Biden-Harris ticket, and first-time voters especially those living in the states identified by the Democratic presidential campaign where the closest results will likely occur: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin. I ask that you especially to distribute these blogs to young Americans who, historically, turn out in smaller numbers relative to their percentage of the population. Please don’t limit your list to Jews alone. Send these blogs to all peoples of color and other faith traditions who may find our positions helpful as they approach this election.
I begin this series with an ancient rabbinic Midrash and the inspired words of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel (z’l):
“’Now these are the ordinances (Exodus 21:1)…’If a person acts as though they were a terumah (the portion separated, or set aside, for the priests) by secluding themselves in the corner of their home and declaring: “What concern are the problems of the community to me? What does their judgment mean to me? Why should I listen to them? I will do well (without them),” that person helps to destroy the world.” -Midrash Tanhuma, Mishpatim, Siman 2
“There is immense silent agony in the world, and the task of [hu]man[kind] is to be a voice for the plundered poor, to prevent the desecration of the soul and the violation of our dream of honesty. The more deeply immersed I became in the thinking of the Prophets, the more powerfully it became clear to me what the lives of the Prophets sought to convey: that morally speaking, there is no limit to the concern one must feel for the suffering of human beings, that indifference to evil is worse than evil itself, that in a free society, some are guilty, but all are responsible.” -Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel