Renewing the Covenant

By :  Stephanie Ruskay Associate Dean, The Rabbinical School Posted On Jun 22, 2018 | Speaking of Text: The Jewish Bookshelf | Social Justice
God will return to us when we are willing to let Him in—into our banks and factories, into our Congress and clubs, into our homes and theaters. For God is everywhere or nowhere, the father of all men or no man, concerned about everything or nothing. Only in His presence shall we learn that the glory of man is not in his will to power but in his power of compassion. . . .
God is waiting for us to redeem the world. . . . When Israel approached Sinai, God lifted up the mountain and held it over their heads saying: “Either you accept the Torah or be crushed beneath the mountain.” The mountain of history is over our heads again. Shall we renew the covenant with God? (Abraham Joshua Heschel, “The Meaning of This War [World War II]”)

We are completing six weeks of the Poor People’s Campaign: A Moral Fusion Movement, a revival of the campaign led by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Towards the end of his life, Dr. King proclaimed that we needed economic and human rights for poor people of all backgrounds and led a six-week protest in Washington, DC. And yet, poverty remains prevalent in American society.

Inspired by the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination and motivated by today’s injustice, Rev. Dr. William Barber II and Rev. Liz Theoharis relaunched the campaign, offering each of us the opportunity to bring our best selves forward to partner with God and each other to sanctify the places where we study, socialize, and do business, and to commit ourselves to stretching to renew our covenant with God. What other choice do we have? What we have been doing, hasn’t been working.

We sing in Lekha Dodi “Rise up and leave your destruction behind,” reminding ourselves that in covenant with God we can and must bravely overcome any calamity. May we all have the strength to rise up.