Tonight, I will join with the Three Village Interfaith Community of Suffolk County for our joint Thanksgiving Service. With prayer, reflection, and music we express our gratitude for the many blessings in our lives: food, family, friendship, freedom and faith.
Our communal experience is enhanced because we work together to share experiences from our different backgrounds and faith traditions: Muslim, Jewish, Christian. Our skin colors range from palest of pale to darkest of dark.
We celebrate joys and triumphs together, we weep together during moments of sadness and pain.
But as we gather tonight in Thanksgiving and celebration, our hearts feel broken and bereft for the family of 18-year old Michael Brown, who was shot and killed on August 9th by police officer, Darren Wilson, in Ferguson, MO. We also cry in anguish for what is taking place in Ferguson right now.
Ferguson is burning. Violence is raging all around because of the grand jury decision yesterday not to indict Wilson for Michael Brown’s murder.
We are taught: “tzedek tzedkek tirdof – justice justice you shall pursue” (Deuteronomy 16:20). Where was justice for Michael Brown? For his family?
What does the grand jury decision in Ferguson teach us about police and racial divides in Missouri?
We are obligated to seek out justice – but not via violence and unbridled rage.
This Thanksgiving there will be many interfaith groups coming together in prayer and unity.
Let our prayer inform our thoughts and deeds. Let us reflect on the magnitude of the injustice affecting millions around the world. Let our prayer sensitize us to hear the voices of those whose blood cries out from the ground, whose voices cry out when they need help. Let us use our prayers as an opportunity to ask the Divine to help us combat injustice all over the world.
But let us keep in mind that prayer alone is not enough. The Talmud teaches us that “once the eye has seen, and the ear has heard, one cannot pretend to be uninvolved or unaffected.” What does this mean? This means we are obligated to act to eradicate injustice and evil. We must use the tools that God has given us – our voices, our financial resources, our political power – to end injustice by fighting with all our strength.
Next year, we pray, that justice will come to Ferguson.