Remarks by Rabbi Lisa Edwards at the Tisha b’Av Action for Family Reunification

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Sunday July 22, 2018 Intersection of Pico & Robertson, LA

My name is Lisa Edwards and I am the rabbi at Beth Chayim Chadashim, a synagogue just a few blocks east of here on Pico Blvd., a congregation founded 46 years ago as a House of New Life by gay and lesbian Jews who knew the sting of being exiled from their families and communities.

This day — Tisha b’Av — calls upon all of US (U.S.) to cry out and also TO ACT for the reunification of families. Eicha is the Hebrew title of the Book of Lamentations, the Biblical book Jews read on Tisha b’Av. Eicha — the book’s first word — is sometimes translated as Alas! AND sometimes translated as HOW? “How can it be that the city sits solitary that once was filled with people?” asks the prophet Jeremiah about the city of Jerusalem some 2600 years ago.

AND RIGHT NOW? EICHA? HOW?!

Can it be that this question is relevant to us today?   How can it be that TODAY right here in Los Angeles and across the U.S. people are being exiled from what should be their rightful place in our country? How can it be that today mothers and fathers are weeping for their children, and children are crying out lonely and afraid, separated from their parents needlessly, unfairly, illegally, unjustly?

Thank you for gathering with us today of all days.  Let this Tisha b’AV and this moment in time in our country’s history serve as a reminder and wake-up call: ALAS is a momentary cry.

But HOW? Is a call to action.

We will call out what has gone wrong and we will continue to gather, working every which way we can, not only to reunite these families, but also to reunite our country, to reunite our one human family, so that in words of Jeremiah read on a happier occasion [haftarah for 2nd day Rosh Hashanah, Jeremiah 31:17]: וְיֵשׁ־תִּקְוָ֥ה

And there is hope for your future —declares God:  V’sha-vu va-neem lig-vu-lam. Your children shall yet return to their country.

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