Pitchu-li sha’arë-tzédek avo-vam odeh Yah.
. פִּתְחוּ-לִי שַׁעֲרֵי-צֶדֶק אָבֹא-בָם אוֹדֶה יָהּ
Open the gates of righteousness for me that I may enter them and praise the Eternal.
On Monday we honor the memory and salute the legacy of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. who died in the cause of social justice. For Jews that cause is rooted in Torah and the words of our prophets, sages and leaders, “Tzedek, Tzedek, Tirdof! Justice, justice shall you seek! (Deut. 16:20)” As such, we have a deep connection to this commemoration.
From the Union of Reform Judaism
“’Reform Jews are committed to social justice. Even as Reform Jews embrace ritual, prayer, and ceremony more than ever, we continue to see social justice as the jewel in the Reform Jewish crown. Like the prophets, we never forget that God is concerned about the everyday and that the blights of society take precedence over the mysteries of heaven. A Reform synagogue that does not alleviate the anguish of the suffering is a contradiction in terms.’ – Rabbi Eric Yoffie, speech to the UAHC Executive Committee, February 1998”
“It has become axiomatic that to be a Jew is to care about the world around us. To be a Reform Jew is to hear the voice of the prophets in our head; to be engaged in the ongoing work of tikkun olam; to strive to improve the world in which we live.”
The Reform Movement has been involved in the fight against inequity and injustice throughout its history, and its social justice advocacy continues to this day. Temple Kol Hamidbar is part of the Reform Movement. We do our part to repair the world (Tikkun Olam) wherever, however and whenever we can.
The following prayer from “Mishkan T’filah / A Reform Siddur” p.516, includes the words of the Prophet Isaiah, who was one of the prophets that inspired Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, and many others to fight for social justice.
FOR OUR COUNTRY
THUS SAYS ADONAI, This is what I desire: to unlock the fetters of wickedness, and untie the cords of lawlessness; to let the oppressed go free, to break off every yoke. Share your bread with the hungry, and take the wretched poor into your home. When you see the naked, give clothing, and do not ignore your own kin.
O GUARDIAN of life and liberty, may our nation always merit Your protection. Teach us to give thanks for what we have by sharing it with those who are in need. Keep our eyes open to the wonders of creation, and alert to the care of the earth. May we never be lazy in the work of peace; may we honor those who have [served, suffered or] died in defense of our ideals. Grant our leaders wisdom and forbearance. May they govern with justice and compassion. Help us all to appreciate one another, and to respect the many ways that we may serve You. May our homes be safe from affliction and strife, and our country be sound in body and spirit. Amen.
May Martin Luther King, Jr. Day truly inspire us as a congregation and as individuals to seek after justice and show compassion.