A Rabbi’s Benediction from Sedona, AZ

Sedona Women’s March with snowy, cold weather. Photo credit: Rabbi Alicia Magal.

On a blustery day in Sedona and the Verde Valley in Arizona, Rabbi Alicia Magal delivered these remarks to the hundreds of assembled marchers.

Look around.  In this challenging weather perhaps mirroring our internal weather, we are gathered peacefully to walk a path together.  A path of hope, of compassion, of upholding rights for minorities and rights for women.  We are walking in the direction of social justice, healthcare protection, environmental protection, protection of undocumented families, and respect for religious diversity. We are filled with emotion that doesn’t even have a clear name.

But it is palpable.  Can you feel a sense of unity among us despite our different backgrounds and ideas?

Please, look at your feet. Yes, look down at your feet.  They are not just walking aimlessly, but your feet represent the means of taking a decision and walking down a path. If you are in a wheelchair, you still guide your direction and it is as if you are walking.

When Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel walked with Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma in the ‘60’s he said afterward that he felt as though his feet were praying.  So that is what you are doing today… Your feet are praying.  This is a start – in Pirkei Avot, the Ethics of the Sages, it is written,

“ Lo alecha hamlacha ligmor…” It is not your job to finish the task but neither are you allowed to desist from beginning it.

So we are taking a first step, and another, as far as we each can.  After today our feet may walk on different paths depending on our strengths and talents, but today we are gaining strength from walking with each other.  Our spirit is being called upon to serve, even if we do not know exactly how.  This week we read in the Torah about how Moses, who stuttered, was called by God from a burning bush to take on leadership… and he replied Hineni.. Here I am.  Even though he saw himself as not up to the task of freeing his people, he accepted this divine calling. 

Hineni… Here I am.  Here we are. 

You will hear more about how to manifest your feelings in activism. May your spirit guide you to take positive action; may your feet carry you on a path of compassionate caring.

Holy One of Blessing shower each one gathered at this march with hope and resolve, and imbue us with confidence that our opinions and actions truly make a difference.    – Amen.

Rabbi Alicia Magal serves the Jewish Community of Sedona and the Verde Valley, which is welcoming, egalitarian, inclusive congregation dedicated to building a link from the past to the future by providing religious, educational, social and cultural experiences. It chooses to remain unaffiliated in order to respect and serve the rich diversity of their members and visitors.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of Lilith Magazine.