By Rabbi Esther Hugenholtz
As the Rabbi of Agudas Achim, I strive to honor, empower and celebrate the voices within the Jewish tradition that cry out for justice and moral accountability. We are charged to listen and act, as our tradition has mandated from the earliest days of Abraham and Sarah.
Our faith seeks to challenge, change, comfort and heal. These are the days just before Rosh haShanah (Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement). During this sacred time of repentance, we ask for time, reflection, accountability and grace for all parties: the activist community, our local government, the Jewish community of Iowa City within and beyond the walls of the synagogue and the Iowa City community writ large. We cannot ignore the challenging realities of pursuing justice at all levels. We are called to listen intently; recognize that good, moral people can differ in the ways of pursuing justice and equality for all; and acknowledge that there are many voices in our local Jewish landscape.
We honor the leadership of our elected officials including those who are Jews and recognize their dedication, integrity and hard work.
We honor the moral clarity of the letter writers and their calling to address injustice. We invite them to join us in our growth as Jews standing in the tradition of justice.
It is my hope we as Jews will continue to listen and learn, have honest conversations and move forward constructively.
Most importantly of all, we stand in solidarity with all those affected by systemic racism and white supremacy, in our city and beyond. Black lives matter.
May we continue to commit to listening, healing and building for effective change. As we move into the Jewish new year of 5781, we pray for a sweet year of healing, justice and peace.