Countering prejudice and hate, with love and dignity

We at Kavana will not cave to this bullying. And, we are serious about the Torah’s insistence: “ve-ahavtem et ha-ger, ki gerim hayitem be-eretz mitzrayim,” “You shall love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. We recognize assaults on human rights and human dignity when we see them, and we are brave enough to name these as morally wrong. We know that our tradition teaches that every human being was created b'tzelem elohim, in the Divine image. (Or, as a friend and colleague of mine posted on social media: "Do you know what we call transgender people in my house? People!")

Last week, the Trump Administration threatened to deny the existence of trans people in the United States, proposing a new narrow definition for gender.  The New York Times called this "the most drastic move yet in a governmentwide effort to roll back recognition and protections of transgender people under federal civil rights law." This was bad, but the week wasn't over yet. The president then began picking on the caravan of Central American migrants currently winding their way through Mexico towards the U.S.'s southern border, proclaiming them criminals, "very bad people," and even suggesting that the caravan might constitute a terrorist invasion that needs to be met at the border with military force. Oy!

We are angry, but also smart enough to see through all of this!  It's clear that these latest attempts to prey on some of the most vulnerable populations in our society -- trans people and (would-be) immigrants -- are part of a calculated political strategy.  At once, Trump is throwing red meat to his base, and trying to send the rest of us scrambling into defensive postures.

We at Kavana will not cave to this bullying. And, we are serious about the Torah’s insistence: “ve-ahavtem et ha-ger, ki gerim hayitem be-eretz mitzrayim,” “You shall love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. We recognize assaults on human rights and human dignity when we see them, and we are brave enough to name these as morally wrong. We know that our tradition teaches that every human being was created b'tzelem elohim, in the Divine image. (Or, as a friend and colleague of mine posted on social media: "Do you know what we call transgender people in my house? People!")  

Instead, we are putting our values into action, doing our part to reaffirm the humanity of all people and to promote policies that work for the benefit of all. Just this weekend, we gathered to observe National Refugee Shabbat, where -- instead of characterizing immigrants we had never met -- we listened to and amplified the stories of refugees and those who work on their behalf.  

We also know that one of the most powerful tools we have to make change is voting... and a very important election is just around the corner on November 6th!  We are continuing our community's involvement in this election with several Kavana phone banks organized around the clean air and gun safety initiatives (also clear expressions of our values) -- and we encourage you to join us for one or more of the dates (please see below for the sign-up link). And Kavana high school students are fully in on these election efforts even before they can vote, with activities related to gun safety and the election at their first two sessions this year.

In addition, one of Kavana's super-powers is that we are a community comprised largely of transplants to the Seattle area, which means that many of us have close ties to family members and friends in lots of other states across the country. In the next two weeks, we encourage you to reach out to those contacts and talk with them about the issues that are on their ballots. Encourage them to vote, and to help with turnout in their areas. Also, please mention that trans people belong here, and so do immigrants!

Only if we work together, raising our voices with messages of love, justice, equality, and human dignity, can we trump the hateful rhetoric spewing from the other Washington.