Text of the IFAD opening by Rabbi Avi Fine, Assistant Rabbi, Temple De Hirsch Sinai
February 10, 2022

“Good morning all and thank you for a being a part of FAN’s Interfaith Advocacy Day.

Allow me to open with one of my favorite Jewish texts related to using your voice civically.

This text comes from the Talmud, which is a collection of Jewish law, codified around the 6th-8th centuries CE. The authors, who we refer to as “the rabbis,” are writing as leaders of a Jewish community with very little power relative to the outside forces in the countries in which they live. Even in a time of powerlessness, the rabbis invite each of us to consider the power we do have:

“Whoever has the power to protest the sins of their family but does not is liable for their sins, whoever has the power to protest the sins of the people of their town but does not is liable for the sins of their town, whoever has the power to protest the sins of the whole world but does not is liable for the sins of the whole world”  Talmud Shabbat 54a

Or in summary, you are responsible for speaking up against the sins of whatever group in which you have power. What I read in this text is an acknowledgement that each of us have different amounts of power. And that each of us has a sphere of influence and responsibility.

Lobbying our representatives today is therefore not only our civic duty but is holy work. It is our right to ensure our voices are heard by those in power. We have that power. And since our representatives act in our name, it is our responsibility to demand that their actions reflect our values.

May God give each of us the strength to express our values,

The wisdom to accept our responsibility,

And the knowledge that our power lies in our solidarity.”