Learning from One Another

A few years ago, at our Chicago Convention, I attended a session presented by our colleague Joel Mosbacher on gun legislation. I went in expecting a particular form of argument, and I left understanding the herculean efforts engaged to further the cause of smart-gun technology.

The basic premise of smart-guns is that only the authorized user has the ability to unlock a weapon. It is not a panacea when it comes to solving the issues of gun-violence, but rather is just one proposal in a larger sea of suggestions.

Joel has traveled the world to meet with politicians and manufacturers in support of this cause, to little effect. But he did explain how perceptions were slowly beginning to change. Sadly, as we all well know, guns and gun violence are a tragic part of our existence, at this moment.

The conversation then veered into a discussion about local community organizing efforts. I took these lessons to heart, and I began to get involved in community organizing in my previous position. I met with a local organizer and we started holding discussions with fellow clergy across religious denominations. However, as I moved on to a new position, I had to leave these efforts in the hands of others.

The reason why I mention this is I went into a session expecting to hear arguments I had heard before. When I left, I had a new sense of purpose and a new area of engagement that has helped to shape my rabbinate. I had a new understanding of what you, my colleagues, are doing to bring about a greater sense of our Prophetic tradition to our country and our world. And I left with a sense of optimism in that what we do, matters.

This is one of the reasons why I go to conventions. I enjoy time with friends and colleagues, and the ability to blow off steam is invaluable. But it can also be a place to rejuvenate our sense of mission and purpose, especially in today’s troubling world. What we do matters, and we can learn a lot from each other in how to become better advocates for the causes we care so passionately about.

So please join us at CCAR 2018 in Orange County. Speaking for myself, I would love the opportunity to learn from you.

Rabbi Benjamin A. Sharff serves The Reform Temple of Rockland in Upper Nyack, New York. 

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