We learn from holy words, from commandments
That are part of our heritage
That we should love our neighbors as ourselves -
Where neighbor can mean people in our neighborhood or
Our city or our county or our state or our country or our region which may include yet another country – OR our entire planet
Which inhabits this miniscule neighborhood of a vast universe.
We also learn that we should love not only our neighbor
But also the stranger – one who may come from another place - because we ourselves – if we go back far enough in the histories of our own families – came from another place. So we should know that we must not oppress the stranger and close our hearts.
If we are to follow the teachings of God and sages and prophets, we must offer our welcome and open our hands and our hearts.
How is it that we have lost the ability to see all people who reside right next to us as neighbors and as fellow human beings?
How is it that we have forgotten, amid the laws and principles that rule our lives, that there is one basic principle that underlies our relationships, a belief restated by the Jewish sage, Rabbi Akiba 1900 years ago - – CHAVIV ADAM SHENIVRA B’TZELEM ELOHIM - Beloved is humankind which is created in the image of God. That image is the spirit of God that lives inside each of us – that image is where we are all the same. That image is what unites us and reminds us that we all have feelings, hopes, dreams. If we see ourselves – all of us - as reflecting God’s image, there are no borders, there are no rules to keep people out. There are only connections that draw us together, a circle that brings us all into one family.
So let us pray for the Sheriff, law enforcement officials, the leaders of our county – as well as our city, state and nation – let them show in the way they interpret and enforce laws that we are part of one family – that we are created in God’s image – that each of us deserves respect as a child of our parents, as a member of a family and as fellow children of God. And may we remember that this applies to our leaders so that we can help them fulfill their tasks with compassion and wisdom.