Last week we suggested that congregations spend Shabbat memorializing the tragic incidents in Oak Creek, WI and Joplin, MO. We encouraged all URJ congregations to remember those killed as a result of hate crimes, include prayers of healing for the wounded, prayers of support for the families and communities affected, and prayers of healing for our nation. And you delivered. So many of you shared with us your plans to commemorate the victims of these attacks. You told us how you brought conversations about bigotry and group-based hatred into the walls of your synagogue, learning from and healing with each other.
But we don’t have to wait for tragedy to bring these conversations into our Shabbat services. Instead, themes of social justice can guide us in prayer each week. We can incorporate opening prayers and readings connecting our history as victims of persecution to similar injustices today. During Kabbalat Shabbat we can remember the words of Rabbi Nachman of Bratzlav who said:
“One must repeat from time to time: The world was created for my sake. Never say: What do I care about this or that? Do your part to add something new, to bring forth something that is needed, and to leave the world a little better because you were here briefly.”
I encourage you to allow your synagogue and your Shabbat to be one of both renewal and one of serious thought.
See the RAC’s Social Action Worship Resources for more ideas about how to incorporate social justice into your Shabbat services. For more posts highlighting Shabbat visit RJ Blog‘s “Spotlight on Shabbat.”