#BeLikeEsther: Show Us How You Stand Up for What’s Right
Long ago in Persia, before tweets and 24-hour news cycles, a royal vizier named Haman had the ear of King Achashverosh, a foolish and malleable man. When a Persian Jew named Mordechai enraged Haman by refusing to bow down, Haman vowed not only to punish Mordechai, but to exterminate all the Jews of Persia.
With Mordechai’s help, our hero was Esther, a smart and tenacious Jewish woman who bravely stepped up to the plate. Esther gained clout with the farshtinkener (stinking) king, and bravely worked to help thwart Haman’s wicked plan.
Mordechai’s words to Esther speak directly to us today:
“Do not imagine that you will be able to escape in the King’s palace any more than the rest of the Jews. For if you persist in keeping silent at a time like this, relief and deliverance will come to the Jews from some other place, while you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether it was just for such a time as this that you attained the royal position!” [Book of Esther 4:13-14]
This Purim, in the face of forces counter to our own, we recognize modern-day heroes — for their courage, chutzpah, integrity, and goodness — and for inspiring us all to #BeLikeEsther. Here are just a few ways the Jewish community is standing up for what’s right and just – and we want to hear from you, too.
The decision to rescind regulations that protect transgender students was met with strong objections from the Reform Jewish community, as well as groups like the Anti-Defamation League.
Teens from NFTY, the Reform Jewish youth movement, launched a racial justice campaign to "stand in solidarity and show our support for members of the Reform Jewish community, and all communities, who are affected by racial injustice."
The head of a Jewish women’s organization sent an open letter to Congress following the Women’s March, and in Brooklyn, NY, another Reform rabbi wrote in praise of a modern-day Miriam who would not be silenced.
While a Reform congregation in the Virgin Islands held an interfaith service denouncing the recent (and recently overturned) immigration ban, rabbis in New York City were arrested protesting the same issue, and one of those arrested explains why. Priests, rabbis, and imams worked to prevent deportation of an immigrant man who has lived in the U.S. for the last 25 years.
Disability Awareness and Inclusion
The Reform Jewish community shared stories, ideas and resources to commemorate the 8th annual Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month in February. One young women shared a poignant story about suffering, suicide, and the importance of fighting the stigma of mental illness, and a Reform congregation established a mental health initiative for its members.
Reform Jews in Calabasas, CA, were among those who gathered in friendship with their Muslim neighbors. When a mosque in Texas burned down, the local Reform rabbi gave Muslim leaders a key to the synagogue. Many Jews donated to a Florida mosque damaged in an arson attack. (It’s worth noting that others have been like Esther, too, acting in support of Jewish communities in trying times: The New York Times reports that thousands of Muslims raised money for Jewish institutions under attack, and two Philadelphia unions will provide free services to help repair and secure the city’s vandalized Jewish cemetery.)
With a long history of mutual suspicion, the Vatican and Rome’s Jewish community are now planning a menorah exhibit, a collaboration described as “a step in solidifying ties” between Jews and Catholics
Marches and Rallies
One young activist explains how she stopped watching the action and started being a part of it, while another Jewish woman articulates why she marched in the National Day of Jewish Action for Refugees: Because "'Never again' means never again for anybody.'"
What are you and others in your community doing to #BeLikeEsther? Comment on this post, tweet @ReformJudaism, or share with us on Facebook to share examples of how your Jewish community is fighting for social justice in today’s world
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