By Rabbi Bonnie
Margulis, Rabbinic Cabinet
Around the world at this High Holy Day season, we Jews
examine our souls, assess our past behavior, make amends for our
sins and misdeeds, and resolve to do better in the year to
come. This annual cheshbon nefesh, this inventory
of our inner selves, is intended to inspire us to become better
people, and to create a better world.
This process is communal as
much as it is personal. We do not pray Ashamti,
I have sinned, but Ashamnu,
we have sinned; we do not pray Avi
Malachi, My Parent, My
Ruler, but Avinu Malkeinu,
Our Parent, Our Ruler.
As Jews, we are obligated to work together to engage in acts of
tikkun olam, the repair of the world.
Our Haftarah reading on Yom Kippur morning makes clear to us
exactly what this means:
To unlock the fetters of wickedness,
And untie the
cords of the yoke
To let the oppressed go free;
break off every yoke.
It is to share your bread with the
And to take the wretched poor into your home;
you see the naked, to clothe him,
And not to ignore your own
kin. (Isaiah 58:6-7)
Isaiah reminds us that, as Jews who know what it is
to be oppressed, we must care deeply about the oppression of
others. As Jews who treasure family above all else, we
must care deeply about the pain suffered by our kin. The
words of Isaiah compel us to strive for peace, not just in our
own household, but also between our brothers and sisters in
Israel, and our cousins the Palestinians.
Our kinship with the Palestinians and the Biblical
imperative to treat them as family is brought home on Rosh
Hashanah, when we read in Genesis 21:13 that God assures and
comforts Abraham concerning Ishmael -"I will make the son of the
maidservant into a nation also, because he is your offspring."
The Torah teaches us it is never too late for
reconciliation between siblings. When Abraham dies, Isaac
and Ishmael bury him together. The rabbis tell us that the
brothers eventually learned to put aside old grievances and to
make peace. So, too, can we, Jews and Arabs, Israelis and
Palestinians, learn to reconcile, to forget old enmities, and to
live together, side by side.
This is, to be sure, not an easy task, nor one which
can be completed quickly -- but neither can it be ignored.
Our tradition teaches that Yom Kippur will not absolve us of
transgressions between ourselves and God, until we have made
amends for transgressions between us and our fellow human
beings. Let us each pledge to do our part this coming year
so that Israelis and Palestinians can live in normalcy, peace,
and security. Let us build bridges to our Muslim neighbors,
stand behind our Israeli brothers and sisters in their efforts
to bring peace, and support the efforts of the Palestinians to
create their own sovereign state.
Ken y'hi ratzon. May it be so.
Rabbi Bonnie Margulis
was ordained at Hebrew Union College (HUC) in 1992.
Currently working as a Jewish educator in Madison, WI, she was
the Director of Clergy Programming for the Religious Coalition
for Reproductive Choice for twelve years. In the 1990s, she
served as rabbi of the Blacksburg Jewish Community and the
Virginia Polytechnic Institute Hillel. Rabbi Margulis is proud
to be a member of the Reform Movement's Commission on Social
Action, where she sits on the Women and Minorities Task
Force. She is also a member of the Central Conference of
American Rabbis Justice and Peace Committee, co-chairs the
Women's Rabbinic Network Social Justice Committee, and is a
leader in the Wisconsin chapter of Brit Tzedek v'Shalom and
active in the Brit Tzedek Rabbinic Cabinet.
Rabbi Margulis is married to Rabbi Jonathan Biatch, and they
have two children, Samantha Chaya Biatch and Joshua Ariel
Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, The Jewish Alliance for Justice
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Phone: (312) 341-1205
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