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Baltimore & Jerusalem protests Affect Perspectives on Parshah Acharei Mot-Kedoshim

The rioting and protests in Baltimore, as well as the protests in Jerusalem this week, are affecting sermons and thoughts related to this weekend’s Shabbat double parshah: Acharei Mot-Kedoshim (After death: holiness).

Is it any wonder? After tragedy: holiness.

One can imagine sermons related to the continuing tragedies in Nepal, coupled with life-saving rescues and the highly publicized role of Israel in the post-earthquake efforts.

Inaugurated the Israel funded and staffed field hospital in Kathmandu Nepal this week

Inaugurated the Israel funded and staffed field hospital in Kathmandu Nepal this week

Or imagine sermons on Baltimore.

In Baltimore, today, over a dozen rabbis and countless members of the Maryland Jewish community participated in a rally for “police reform and justice for Freddie Gray” organized by Baltimore United for Change and Jews United for Justice. Molly Amster, the Baltimore director of Jews United for Justice said in a statement, “We thank [Maryland] State’s Attorney Mosby for her swift and decisive action today in charging all six officers in the homicide of Freddie Gray … The city of Baltimore must also do its part to address longstanding and systematic discrimination against communities of color and make significant investments in housing and job training in West Baltimore.”

And imagine sermons in Israel this week.

In Israel this week, there was a rally against alleged police violence and brutality against Ethiopian Israelis. On Thursday in Jerusalem, protesters blocked streets and the city’s light rail tracks, and hundreds of Israelis of Ethiopian heritage clashed with police. The demonstration was organized after video emerged online showing policemen beating of Damas Pakada, an Ethiopian-born IDF soldier. Yohanan Danino, Israel’s Chief of Police, said that the police officer who was filmed beating Mr. Pakada would be expelled from the force. Danino also said that he would establish a special team to examine the Ethiopian-Israeli community’s claims of police violence and formulate ways to deal with the problem. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin condemned the beating of the soldier.

In Acharei Mot-Kedoshim, we learn about the details of God comforting Aaron after the death of his sons in the tabernacle, and then the covenant wholeness/peace offerings and sacrifices that are “shared”, followed by social justice laws, such as leaving the corners of YOUR fields for the poor and not lying, coveting, swearing falsely with God’s name, and bearing false witness: doing the right thing and living justly. Amazing how it relates to this past week’s world events.

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