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Getting other voices amplified

06/03/2021 04:00:29 PM


A few times a month, especially when something in the world has gone sideways, I receive emails and questions looking to start a conversation to make sense of the new developments covered in our news cycles. I’m asked where the leaders on both sides of the aisle are, and why aren’t they speaking out about anti-Semitism or about our Jewish community’s response to racism or other issues. And through the handful of years I have been doing this, I have discovered that it’s not that people are silent on these issues, nor is it that Jewish organizations don’t put out statements about these problems. A quick web search usually turns up exactly the response or statement we lamented not seeing. The problem isn’t that there is silence, rather the problem is with our “megaphone” and which voices get amplified over others. 

This is the same problem that occurs in Parshat Shlach Lecha. Following the command of God, Moses sends scouts to spy on the promised land and bring back a report to the people. However, ten of the dozen spies come back with a negative report about how difficult the land will be to militarily overpower and the news spreads like wildfire throughout the camp. The Israelites complain, God gets peeved that the Israelites don’t have faith that God can deliver on His promise, the Israelites are punished with wandering in the wilderness for forty years, and the rest is history. Where was the voice of reason? Why weren’t any of the leaders faithful? Of course, we know that two of the spies, Caleb and Joshua, were indeed faithful, but their voices didn’t get picked up by the mainstream media. Their positive reports got lost in the shuffle and weren’t heeded by the Israelites. 

As we enter June, the LGBTQ community will turn up the volume on their voices on the importance of gender and identity rights in our country. In a society that historically has overshadowed and drowned out these voices, this month provides the opportunity for people to speak their truths on love and identity. While our society has come a long way in the last 50 years, there is still more of the conversation that needs to be resolved. And while some might ask, “where are the voices and who are the leaders of this issue”, I might reply, “where are the megaphones that are too loud that we might need to dial down in order to let such voices and leaders be heard?”

Sat, May 25 2024 17 Iyyar 5784