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10 Ways to Promote Love, Inclusion, and Compassion During Hard Times

10 Ways to Promote Love, Inclusion, and Compassion During Hard Times

Shadowed hand holding heart-shaped figure in front of sunlight with golden grass in the background

This past week has been difficult for our nation and our Jewish community. When Nazis feel emboldened, the knee-jerk response is to shut down and close ranks. But we must continue to advance our audaciously hospitable philosophies and actions, even more so than when things are calm, and (relatively) easier in the world. Our teachings say: “When love is strong, we can lie on the edge of a sword.” And so, it is with us. The way to respond to xenophobia in the world, is with love, inclusion, and compassion in our communities.

So, in the face of these horrible attacks on the very fabric of our nation, let’s recommit to saying "Hineni," "Here I am":

  1. Instead of shutting down, speak up at the injustices we observe.
  2. Instead of circling the wagons, learn to be an ally, and discover who are our allies.
  3. Instead of avoiding the hard conversations, embrace the discomfort and use it as an opportunity for radical self-growth; after all, we won’t get comfortable until we get uncomfortable.
  4. Instead of assuming our perspectives are the whole story, be mindful of others’ lived experiences.
  5. Instead of isolation, reach out to establish deeper connections with people around you.
  6. Instead of closing off your mind, listen without judgment to those in our communities whose opinions differ from yours, and value them.
  7. Instead of assuming people feel safe in our physical spaces, actively seek to make them safer.
  8. Instead of being afraid to ask questions, seek answers for what you don’t know about identity and difference.
  9. Instead of pushing away those who honestly seek connection, embrace personal vulnerability as a tactic for finding empathy with others.
  10. Instead of self-flagellation, seek to grant kindness to those around you – and especially to yourself.

At times, some of us may be tempted to shut down or try to ignore the difficult thoughts and feelings that may arise. These are scary times. But, having the courage to move our values and philosophies forward, even when the outside world threatens, is, in fact, the most audacious thing we can do. So, when xenophobic white nationalism finds its footing atop our civic structures, let us do what Jews have done for centuries; let us find learning and strength in the teachings of our books and sages.

In the words of Rabbi Tarfon, “Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.”

April Baskin is the Union for Reform Judaism's vice president of audacious hospitality. Before coming aboard in August 2015, she served as the national Director of Resources and Training at InterfaithFamily.com. Dedicated to building a stronger, more inclusive Jewish community committed to social justice, April has spent 10 years advocating for Jewish diversity inclusion locally and nationally in a variety of ways, including facilitating LGBT educational trainings as a Keshet facilitator and writing a thesis about the experiences and identities of Jewish young adults of color in American Judaism. A graduate of Tufts University, she is a member of the Selah Leadership Network and an alumna of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Foundation's Insight Fellowship and JUFJ's Jeremiah Fellowship in Washington, DC. Fueled by kale ginger smoothies, April is the immediate past President of the Jewish Multiracial Network. She conducted research on the efficacy of the Earned Income Tax Credit at the Kennedy School of Government and was an Americorps fellow for the Black Ministerial Alliance of Greater Boston.

April Baskin
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