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In The Age of Trump, Should Jews Resist or Persist?

03/06/2017 02:21:04 PM


Earlier this month, I was privileged to attend a three-day conference convened by T’ruah, an organization of rabbis fighting for human rights in the U.S. and beyond. I joined with fellow rabbis from all over the country and across the denominational spectrum for learning, prayer, fellowship and training in Jewish social activism.

T’ruah organized the conference in the wake of the presidential election. The incoming administration had made hostility to disadvantaged and vulnerable groups such as immigrants, refugees, Muslims, Latinos, women, people who identify as LGBTQ, people of color, and people with disabilities central to its campaign. The first few weeks of the nascent administration, epitomized by executive orders temporarily barring the refugee program, denying entry to nationals of seven Muslim-majority countries, authorizing the deportation of millions of Hispanic immigrants, and rolling back protections for transgender children, gave every indication that the campaign rhetoric was not empty.

Many rabbis, like myself, are faithful to what seem like an opposing set of principles than those that animate the new administration. These principles emerge from our understanding of and commitment to the values of the Jewish tradition. They include, above all, advancing equal rights, dignity, and justice for all. With great vision, T’ruah saw that many of us felt a need for some practical training for the work of the moral opposition; for some spiritual practice and text study to enrich, empower, and sustain that work; and for developing an action plan for the path ahead.

Among the most profound insights I gleaned from my time at the conference centered around the increasingly ubiquitous use of the word “resistance” among those of us who see our core principles and commitments as almost diametrically opposed to the administration’s. Many of us, myself included, have called for a “Jewish Resistance” - a concerted effort among like-minded Jews to obstruct, prevent, and blunt the administration’s agenda - and have pledged ourselves to fighting on the frontlines of this movement.

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