Parashat Hayei Sarah

Friday, November 10, 2017 / 21 Heshvan, 5778
Parashat Hayei Sarah Genesis 23:1-25:18
Dear Friends,
Yesterday and today we observe the 79th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass.  Beginning on November 9, 1938, the Jewish communities of Germany and Austria were traumatized by a systematic, state sanctioned pogrom that destroyed hundreds of synagogues, thousands of Jewish owned business, and killed one hundred Jews.  Kristallnacht was the violent precursor to the Holocaust.
This weekend we observe Veterans Day when we honor the men and women who have served our country honorably, protecting and defending the freedoms which we have come to take for granted.
We look to our military and our police officers to protect us when we feel threatened.  What if we are not confident that we can be protected?
I was speaking to a friend Wednesday night following our very successful interfaith dialogue which explored gun violence prevention and gun safety.  She was shocked to discover that a close friend, who is a member of a vulnerable minority group, decided to purchase a gun for protection. Sadly, this person can envision a violent bias-based attack happening in our community. Rightly or wrongly, this is her fear based reality.  She may not feel confident that our military or police force will be able to protect her family from fellow Americans who seek to harm her, so she needs to protect herself.
This response is indicative of the very dark times of this moment of history. There is increased fear, agitation, and suspicion of those who are different.  Jews feel vulnerable, Muslims feel vulnerable, immigrants feel vulnerable.  Many of these feelings arise because we lack relationships with or knowledge of these communities of our neighbors.
One way to mitigate fear and mistrust is to build relationships across lines of class, race, culture and religion, and to use those relationships to fight intolerance and bigotry.
This afternoon, the Iqra Center of Palos Verdes is hosting school aged children to their Friday service so that non-Muslims can learn more about the Muslim faith.  I am looking forward to bringing my children there to help them learn about our neighbors and their religious practices.
Tonight, in addition to commemorating Kristallnacht and Veterans Day, we will also hear from a bright, young college student, whose future is uncertain because of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). DACA was implemented during the Obama administration to protect undocumented young men and women who were brought to this country by their parents when they were children, and have been raised with us.  Their DACA status enabled them to emerge from the shadows, get an education, work, pay taxes and contribute to our country.
President Trump rescinded DACA in September and the program will end in March leaving 800,000 young men and women uncertain about their future in the only country they’ve ever called home.
I recognize that many have different opinions about immigration reform and how to address issues related to undocumented immigrants in our country.  However, I am not sure how many have heard their story of someone living undocumented in our country.
That is why I invite you to join us tonight for our Shabbat Service when you will hear the powerful story of one young woman who I believe will inspire you, educate you, and put a face and voice to an important issue of our day.
Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Charles Briskin