These final weeks of the book of Deuteronomy are a desert recap. Moses recounts the suffering and misguided steps of the Israelites, always with an eye towards something hopeful; something beyond the dry desert; land that is fruitful and flowing; a relationship with our Source that is mutual and responsive. But this week the misery of the desert and the fear of migration has captured my imagination.
I am currently headed to Arizona to join an interfaith clergy delegation called Faith Floods the Desert. I will be joining with humanitarian aid workers who provide food and water in the desert and together resist government repression of this life-saving work. Nationwide, immigration justice organizers are being targeted by federal agencies. As religious people, we answer to a higher law of love and justice: we know that humanitarian aid is not a crime. Migration is not a crime. So in our direct action this Sunday, we will assert the right to save lives by stocking water caches, and so risk the same charges facing No More Deaths activists. If we are charged, we will contest those charges.
The planning has been going on for some time, but I just got a call yesterday saying they could use another rabbi. I will be carrying all of you with me in sacred witness. I plan to share stories of my experience throughout the coming month. I invite you to learn along side me. Here and here are articles I am reading about the interference with and criminalization of humanitarian aid on the U.S./Mexico Border.
Grace Paley said, "The only recognizable sign of hope is action." After a month of deep rest and play, I am heeding her words and preparing for direct action with 60 other faith leaders in the Sonora Desert. Please keep us all in your prayers. And even more so, the lives that are forced to leave home and cross the hot, barren desert. In the words of the poet Warson Shire,
no one leaves home unless
home is the mouth of a shark
you only run for the border
when you see the whole city running as well...
and no one would leave home
unless home chased you to the shore
unless home told you
to quicken your legs
leave your clothes behind
crawl through the desert
wade through the oceans
your survival is more important
I understand the Torah, both written and lived, as a search for a place we can belong, for home, for a place of safety and dignity, a journey towards liberation. I am humbled by the opportunity to bear witness to the Torah of migration and provide some manna in these desert times.
Wishing you all a Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Ari Lev
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Rabbi Ari Lev Fornari brings Torat Hayyim, a living tradition, to Kol Tzedek through thoughts about prayer, justice, and community.