Showing posts from March, 2014

Commemoration Rwandan Genocide

Speech 20th Commemoration Rwandan Genocide  9th of March 2014  Rabbi Esther Hugenholtz  Almost 50 years ago, in March 1965, two modern-day prophets met and marched in Selma, Alabama in the Civil Rights movement: Dr Martin Luther King and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. Both were latter-day prophets who had experienced the consequences of genocide and racism in their own lives: the rabbi had fled Nazi Germany and the pastor rose to challenge the colour bar.  I would like to share some of their timeless wisdom: “Racism is man's gravest threat to man - the maximum of hatred for a minimum of reason” (Heschel). “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.” (King)  Their words ring as true today as they did 50 years ago. The Torah states ‘tzedek tzedek tirdof’ – ‘justice, justice you shall pursue’. We are gathered here today to commemorate the

Parashat Vayikra - Calling on Controversy

Parashat Vayikra  Rabbi Esther Hugenholtz  Calling on Controversy  Usually, when we finish a book of the Torah and close its final words with ‘chazak, chazak v’nitchazek’ (be strong, be strong and let us be strengthened!), there’s some excitement about the book ahead. The story of the family of Abraham in Genesis becomes the story of a people in Exodus. Crossing from Numbers into Deuteronomy means being uplifted by the moral words of the ‘Mishneh Torah’, the second Torah. We may feel less of a buzz when it comes to leaving Exodus behind for Leviticus.  There’s plenty in Leviticus to dread. It’s known as the ‘Torat Kohanim’ for its emphasis on the Priesthood, ritual purity and holiness and has its fair share of sacrifices. It behooves us as Progressive Jews to ask: ‘what do we do with all this stuff?’ It’s an important but also problematic question because at the heart of it lies discomfort with being uncomfortable. It is this discomfort with the uncomfortable that is h