Parashat Vayigash

Proximity & Repair

Even if we are unable to fully fix what's broken, we can begin to make a difference by stepping forward.

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For many years this sense of being overwhelmed led me to engage exclusively in local political organizing and to not even educate myself about global issues. Yet, in 2006, I traveled to El Salvador with AJWS' Rabbinical Students' Delegation. I was struck by the hospitality of the people in our host community who invited me to draw closer to them and take part in their lives. As I listened to stories of their struggles against violence and hopelessness after years of economic repression and civil war, I realized that I could no longer stand outside the "hospital door."

Vayigash offers a Jewish approach to global justice work--let us draw near. The divide of inequality between the Global North and the Global South may not be bridged in our lifetimes, but we can draw nearer to the people and the issues most impacted by global poverty and racism. We can draw near by educating ourselves, by being involved in advocacy efforts, and by supporting grassroots community development projects. 

During this week of Parashat Vayigash, the week of drawing near, may we not be like my patient Mark, frozen outside the door. May we let go of the fear of doing too little that often leads us to do nothing at all. May we have faith that drawing a bit closer to other people, even if it is only one step, is the first step toward changing the world.

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Rabbi Elliot R. Kukla

Rabbi Elliot Kukla is a rabbi at the Bay Area Jewish Healing Center in San Francisco.