Benediction at Temple Beth-El – January 20, 2017
A Final Reflection on Sh’mot - and a response to the "Fractured Faiths" exhibit at the New Mexico History Museum that portrayed the migration of Crypto-Jews to this continent - and how the Inquisition found some of them.....a lesson for today
God of all peoples,
We approach you in prayer with the hope that our words will inspire us
to reach out in friendship to members of the human family representing all faiths and all backgrounds, all cultures and all ideologies.
We know, however, that at times, the fear of the other
Can overtake leaders of nations and their citizens
Resulting in programs of enslavement, expulsion and execution
Carried out to the point of obsession
As if nothing else in life mattered
As if the ability to see the divine image in every person
Had been lost to the detriment of a community or nation.
The Israelites in Egypt, the Jews of Spain, Jewish communities in Europe during World War II and even Crypto-Jews who came to this continent several hundred years ago,
some seeking escape from tyranny or seeking just to survive,
Eventually found no refuge, gained no respite from hatred.
Rulers and community members forgot the good those people had done
And The contributions they had made to knowledge, to culture, and to the richness of faith.
Who knows what was lost from those who were put to death
Because their firm commitment to the heritage of their birth persisted
And they were discovered by those seeking to root them out?
Who knows what the world would be like today
If faith officials and national leaders had sought to be inclusive and open-hearted
Rather than inflexible and fixated on those people whom they saw as a threat
But were only trying to live their lives with treasured beliefs intact?
Guide us today, Eternal One,
To keep our eyes and ears open
So that we can combat ruthless targeting of enemies,
Bullying of ideological opponents,
And the perpetuation of hatreds that should have ended long ago.
When we recite the words of the Psalmist,
“How good and how pleasant it is when people dwell together in unity,”
Help us, God of all ages, to teach others that it will not be because of the victory of one perspective over another that we will thrive –
It will be through reaching understanding, encouraging open discussion, and achieving meetings of the mind and compromise that we can move forward not only as a nation but as a worldwide community.
Help us, Source of compassion and justice, to always put humanity, created in Your image, first in our minds, in our hearts, and in our work to heal the world.