Social Justice

Minister March for Justice

Yesterday I had the privilege of addressing the Ministers March For Justice. It was a day filled with inspiring moments. In these difficult months, marching with people of faith, seeing clergy decked out in their religious garb take the streets of Washington, gave me a renewed sense of hope. When we rounded the corner onto Pennsylvania avenue and the capitol dome came into view, there was new meaning to the words spoken by one of yesterday’s many inspiring speakers, “they have the position, but we have the power.” Yesterday was about harnessing the power of faith leaders of communities all around the country, and I left with an even greater sense of urgency to rally our congregations to do this work. 

I am Rabbi Hannah Goldstein, I am a rabbi at Temple Sinai, in Washington D.C. and my congregation is like many of your congregations. We will not stand idly by.

This is a sacred season for Jews. We are in the month of Elul, when we prepare for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the holiest days of the Jewish Year. At the very end of this period of soul searching and introspection, late in the afternoon on Yom Kippur, in the final hours of our fast, we sing words from Psalm 118. We conclude our worship on the holiest day of the year by crying out to God: Pitchu li sharei tzedek, open the gates of righteousness.

We are here, to open the gates- to open the gates of righteousness, to open the gates of justice.

We are here because it certainly doesn’t look like that’s what our justice department is trying to do. Lately, it seems like our justice department is working overtime to close those gates, and to barricade them shut.

To lock the gates to the voting booths, to lock the gates of the private prisons, after filling them to capacity. They want to lock the gates to this country, to lock the gates to our hospitals and our clinics.

Yesterday, I stand with my brothers and sisters, people of faith, to say that when our justice department closes the gates, together, we will push them back open.

Open the gates.

If they punish sanctuary cities, then we will open wide the doors of our sanctuaries to welcome in those who are vulnerable and afraid.

Open the gates.

If they ban courageous transgender Americans from defending the values of this country, then we will defend our values by standing with them in solidarity.

Open the gates.

If they’re going to send tweets about the devastating hurricane in Houston, we’re going to send food, and diapers, and people to help rebuild.

Open the gates.

If they want to build walls, well then we’re just going to have to lift each other up higher.   “Open the gates”

If they want to teach hate, then we are going to have to love harder.

Open the gates.

Because, of this, we are certain. They are not truly the gatekeepers. They are not the ultimate gatekeeper. They can try to barricade those gates closed, but we will walk tall and unafraid. And we will keep marching right up to those gates, and we will push on those gates with our bodies, with our voices, with our words, with our songs, with our prayers, and we will open the gates.

Arm in arm, we will open the gates, and we will walk through those gates into a land of righteousness, into a land of justice, and into a land of love. Together, we will open the gates of justice.

Rabbi Hannah L. Goldstein serves Temple Sinai, in Washington D.C.