The enormity of the world’s grief: racial hatred and tikkun olam

I wrote our ritual script for Samhain, which was a joy to do, even if it was also a lot of work — I think there’s something extraordinarily beautiful about creating liturgy. But after the events of the past week, we knew we had to call an audible. This is my recreation of what I said, mostly off the cuff; it’s the closest thing to a sermon I’ve ever delivered in ritual.

Yesterday, in Pittsburgh, a gunman entered the Tree of Life synagogue. It was morning services, and there was a bris, a celebration of new life. That gunman killed eleven people. I want to say their names: Continue reading “The enormity of the world’s grief: racial hatred and tikkun olam”

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Social justice magic (maybe)

I don’t do magic, not as a general rule. I’m not even sure  I think it exists outside of an internal psychological reality, though a number of people I trust seem fairly sure of it. But recently I found a situation that really seemed to call for a response that was, well, magical. A few days ago, a colleague came into the office at work, waving a piece of paper angrily. It was a flyer she’d ripped down from a a bulletin board in our academic building: an image of a bust of a Caesar in white marble, its empty eyes staring out above the legend “Serve Your People / Identity Evropa.”

Continue reading “Social justice magic (maybe)”

Keeping up hope in humanity

I hadn’t intended to write about the recent terror attacks in Beirut and in Paris, nor about the way we in the West have reacted to the Paris attacks above and beyond those in Beirut and beyond. I hadn’t intended to write about the burning of mosques by people who don’t distinguish between the beauty of Islam and the horror of Daesh. Nor had I intended to write about the anti-racist student protests at the University of Missouri, which successfully demanded the ouster of Mizzou president Tim Wolfe — but only after the football team joined in, threatening the lucrative athletic program. Nor about the protests at Ohio State, where I work, which had a much better outcome, but also provoked a disgusting barrage of anonymous, racist hate speech on social media. Continue reading “Keeping up hope in humanity”