MARATHON

Jewish Community Center

Opening Doors to Spirituality, Social Consciousness, and Community A Friendly Egalitarian Conservative Congregation

Shabbat Naso

Numbers 4:21-7:89
Candle Lighting time 8:05 PM

 

This week’s Torah portion Naso begins with the census of the Levites. Instead of using more common verbs meaning to count, the Torah uses the verb Naso, נָשׂ֗א אֶת־רֹ֛אשׁ בְּנֵ֥י גֵֽרְשׁ֖וֹן. If you would look this verb up in the BDB, the Hebrew-English Biblical dictionary, you would discover the root meaning of naso is to lift up, carry, share a burden, support. The Levites did not own land and depended upon the tithes given to them by the Israelites in order that they should live. No wonder the Torah uses the idea of lifting up, carrying, supporting when counting the Levites. Interesting enough, marriage is called nesuin, נשואין, because the partners promise to support one another, to share each other’s burdens, and to lift up each other.

 

Starting this past week with the murder of George Floyd, another in a long list of unarmed Black men, by a policeman and the ensuing peaceful protesting and rioting highlight the systemic injustice and racism in our society against people of color. People of color suffer incarceration out of proportion to their numbers in a broken criminal justice system, discrimination in housing, jobs, and healthcare. Their rage has boiled more than once in our history.

 

After the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. Pres. Johnson like Pres. Trump faced protesters and rioters during his tenure but responded completely different our current occupant of the White House. Instead of inflaming tensions with racist remarks (tweets), Johnson took a different approach. Johnson chose the path of lifting these communities up.
 

“His immediate reaction was not to send in troops, but instead to push solutions to the underlying issues sparking the outrage. Johnson first announced a billion-dollar plan to improve African American lives. When some advisers balked, he barked: ‘G-----n it, this country has got to do more for these people, and the time to start is now.’
 
“He promoted a balanced approach, fusing empathy with denunciations of the violence, noting: ‘We need something positive to carry to the people. Otherwise we’ll be caught with nothing. And the people just won’t behave in a vacuum.’

 

“Johnson also made public appeals for calm through symbolic acts. When the meeting with civil rights leaders ended, Johnson accompanied them to Washington National Cathedral to honor King. After returning to the White House, he made a national address flanked by the civil rights leaders.

 

“He emphasized (despite having broken with King over Vietnam): ‘No words of ours … can fill the void of the eloquent voice that has been stilled.’ Johnson stressed that more work needed to be done ‘with urgency, with resolve and with new energy’ to accomplish all possible “until we do overcome.”

 

“Despite the president’s efforts to calm the nation, violent protests continued across the country. Not long after, the smell of burning timbers began wafting into the White House.

 

“While hoping to find ways to quell the protests without bloody force, Johnson prepared to use U.S. troops. Nonetheless, he showed great restraint. He told his commanders he wanted to ‘make sure none of them are trigger-happy. … I don’t want anybody — repeat — anybody, shot if it can be avoided.’

 

“Within a week, most of the worst violence had subsided. Even as it waned, Johnson reflected on the overflowing jails, burned buildings and deaths. He told an aide: ‘What did you expect? I don’t know why we’re surprised. When you put your foot on a man’s neck and hold him down for 300 years, and then you let him up, what’s he going to do? He’s going to knock your block off.’

 

“Johnson keenly understood the deeper problems, even if he avoided reckoning with the ways in which his administration’s criminal justice policies perpetuated violence against minorities


In 1972, right before his death, he told an audience: ‘Let’s watch what’s been done, and see it preserved, but let’s say we have just begun, and let’s go on. Until every boy and girl born in this land, whatever state, whatever color, can stand on the same ground, our job will not be done.’” (Kyle Longley, Washington Post. May 31, 2020)

 

Current events highlights without a shadow of doubt that our job of fixing our society’s systemic injustice and racism is far from over. By lifting up and supporting people of color and bearing our responsibility of America’s original sin, we can begin to undo the damage done by this administration and previous generations while working to perfect this union for all people, no matter of race, religion, creed, or color.

 

This week's zoom opportunities

1. Thursday, June 4th, 12 noon, Lunch and Learn with Rabbi Greene.

 

Who are you grandchildren named after? We shall discuss Aharon Megged’s short story “The Name.” Tension rises when a Holocaust survivor and his Israeli born daughter argue what the new baby boy’s name should be. We shall discuss the importance of a person’s Hebrew name and the potential chasm between the generations. How can a Rabbi help relieve the tension. The short story is attached.

Join URL:  https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87326726813?pwd=WlorM1lzUDZPL25tSUFpRFRSdGdGUT09

 

meeting ID: 873-2672-6813

password:  552784

 

2. Thursday, June 4th, 7:30 PM, dessert and learn with Rabbi Greene

 

Who are you grandchildren named after? We shall discuss Aharon Megged’s short story “The Name.” Tension rises when a Holocaust survivor and his Israeli born daughter argue what the new baby boy’s name should be. We shall discuss the importance of a person’s Hebrew name and the potential chasm between the generations. How can a Rabbi help relieve the tension. The short story is attached.

Join URL: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84963495672?pwd=QnJUK0FoK3VUYjd2VWJxWUVxTlZGUT09

 

Meeting ID: 849 6349 5672

Password 408505
 

3. Friday,  June 5th, Kabbalat Shabbat Services 5PM

 

Join URL:  https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84917741733?pwd=bm8yKzNOeVBLSlFJUis5SnZHWTZqQT09

 

Meeting ID: 849 6349 5672
Password 408505

 

4. Sunday, June 7th Join the virtual celebrate Israel Parade thanking all the essential and front-line workers. 1 PM or 7 PM where any past celebrate Israel Parade T-shirt you have in your closet. Go to http://celebrateisraelny.org/

 

 

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