Reflections from D.C.

On May 19th-21st, six of us representing Temple Beth David went to the Consultation on Conscience, a gathering of 1200 social-justice minded Reform Jews at the Religious Action Center (RAC)  in Washington, DC. While there, we learned about advocating for legislative and social change about some of the most pressing issues of our times and heard from activists, politicians and leaders within our movement. We prayed, learned and visited our Senatorial and Congressional offices together and came back inspired to affect change in our towns.

Having been to L’Taken with our teens (a very similar RAC program for youth), I was excited to be a part of picking a pending bill that was important to me and presenting my support to our representatives in DC. What I was not prepared for was how inspirational the speakers would be.  Nancy Pelosi, Al Sharpton and Rabbi David Saperstein were among the featured speakers and regardless of how one views them, their passion, their dedication and their commitment to their causes was palpable.

I was most impressed, however, with Desmond Meade, director of the Florida Right Restoration Coalition. My brother-in-law had volunteered with the coalition which was responsible for the Second Chance Campaign which re-enfranchised some 1.4 million formerly incarcerated Florida citizens. I did not know, however, that Mr. Meade himself was a formerly incarcerated and then homeless person, who managed to turn his life around and ultimately became a law school graduate. His life’s purpose is now fighting for the rights of returned citizens to ultimately become productive and contributing member of society. He spoke of “leading with people not politics,” certainly words we can all agree upon in this fragmented age. Mostly, he spoke about love as being the ultimate weapon against injustice. “We defeated Jim Crow with love,” he said, and I believe he will continue fighting for justice with love.

You will hear impressions of the conference from other TBD attendees in coming weeks. Maybe you will be inspired to come to the next Consultation in 2021.