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All Voices Count

02/17/2022 03:02:20 PM


If we truly want to reach our full potential as a society, we must make room for all voices to join the conversation. This is the reminder that we set for ourselves every February as we mark Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance, and Inclusion month (JDAAIM).  While we know that every person walks a unique path in life, we can sit down with one another and share a snapshot of our experiences and truths with another human being. And the more we share with one another, the more humbling of an experience it is for us. We hear different stories and perspectives and we realize that our own stories are just single books in an enormous library. Through this sharing, we begin to understand that while each of our own lives are unique, a true understanding of what it means to be human is a composite of all of these stories together. 

This week, we read Parshat Ki Tisa. The portion begins with God commanding the Israelites conduct a census. Our sages ask, “why does God need to take a census?” After all, shouldn’t an omniscient and omnipotent God know the answer without having to show any work? One answer compares God to a shepherd. Even though the shepherd knows how many sheep are in the flock, there is a sense of ownership and value in taking account of each and every animal of the flock as it passes under the shepherd’s rod on the way back to the sheepfold. Thus, our sages teach that God knows how many Israelites are part of the camp, but by taking a census, God is demonstrating that each and every person in the flock has value and importance. 

As JDAAIM continues, we remember the work we do to ensure that every person in our community can participate fully in our programs and activities. The reason we are committed to this goal is the same reason God takes a census of the people; because each person has value and importance and is equally a part of our congregation. We are stronger when we share our perspectives and experiences with others. We are wiser when we make room for other narratives to be shared. We are more authentic when we can be humble enough to know that our understandings are only a piece of a much larger human understanding. Let us all pass under God’s rod. Let us all be counted amongst one another. 

Sat, May 25 2024 17 Iyyar 5784