Without fail, once a week or so, not to mention, twice this week already, someone comes to me and confesses.
"Rabbi, I am such a bad Jew...I work on Shabbat or I eat shrimp or I don't know what Simchat Torah is..."
These statements often come with a shameful tone and bear no resemblance to the confessions of Yom Kippur. While they may not be looking to be absolved, I simply cannot bear to be complicit with this paradigm.
I do not believe in good Jews and bad Jews. Just like I don’t believe in the good Arab, or its corollary, bad Arabs. Nor do I believe in good white people or good black people.
The implicit message we absorb from living as liberal Jews in relation to historical trauma, forces of assimilation, and the the orthodox majority is: "I'm a bad Jew." And the explicit message I often hear from the the Jewish left is: "Judaism has been bad to me." As different as those two statements are, maybe they're two sides of the same coin?
Tonight at services we will be discussing and hopefully debunking the myth of the bad Jew, inviting us all to make teshuva with ourselves and Judaism.
Thank you all for the depth of song and presence you each brought to create a joyful, meaningful Rosh Hashanah. It was enlivening.
Shabbat Shalom and Gmar Hatimah Tova,
May we all be sealed for a life of sweetness,
Rabbi Ari Lev
P.S. In that spirit, take a look at our incredible opportunities for Adult learning this year. Classes are an awesome way to meet people, deepen your practice, and cultivate community.
You can search Rabbi Ari Lev's blog below:
Rabbi Ari Lev Fornari brings Torat Hayyim, a living tradition, to Kol Tzedek Synagogue through thoughts about prayer, justice, and community.