The Jewish Urgency of this Moment

Pictured: Rabbi Michael Knopf giving the introduction at Jewish Americans for Biden Event in Richmond on October 1, 2020, featuring Mr. Doug Emhoff, former Governor Terry McAuliffe, and Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn (photo credit: Kristin Gorin)

Good morning. It is good to be with you all today. And it is a special honor to stand alongside the future Second Gentleman of the United States, Mr. Doug Emhoff. Welcome to Richmond!  

I am the Rabbi of Temple Beth-El, one of Richmond’s oldest and largest congregations, but today, I am here as a private citizen. I am also a proud member of J Street’s Rabbinic Cabinet, and an American Jewish World Service Global Justice Fellow.

As a rabbi, I am called to muster the wisdom of Jewish tradition to address our society’s most pressing moral concerns and to inspire my congregants to work for a more just, compassionate, and peaceful world. While these commitments propel my advocacy for social justice and human rights here, in Israel and Palestine, and around the world, principle and policy normally restrain me from publicly endorsing political candidates. But these are not normal circumstances.

It is impossible to overstate the stakes of this election. The racist, misogynistic, corrupt, inept, and cruel presidency of Donald Trump has been devastating for those of us in the U.S. and around the world who believe in inclusive, pluralistic democracy, human rights, and basic decency. 

And, as if it were possible, the threat this president poses to our republic has become even more clear and present in recent days, as he refuses to disavow white supremacy, preemptively rejects the election’s validity, and urges extremist militias to “stand by” to ensure by any means necessary he remains in power.

But even in dark and dangerous times like these, Jewish tradition commands us not to despair. Rather, we must perpetually recognize our ability and obligation to repair what is broken in our world. We can and must insist on leaders who practice kindness and passionately pursue justice. We can and must demand leaders who do not betray the poor to advance their own wealth and power. We can and must call on our leaders to affirm the equal and infinite worth of every single person, especially the vulnerable and the systematically disadvantaged, both within and beyond our borders. 

For all these reasons and more, we must elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, clearly and forcefully rejecting Donald Trump — and his Republican collaborators. This is a noble purpose. It is a Jewish purpose. Indeed, I believe Jewish tradition would insist that it is a sacred purpose

Let us all commit today to do everything we can, use every resource at our disposal, and muster all our energy, to elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

It is now my honor and privilege to introduce a person who has dedicated her career to embodying the highest of Jewish values and advancing the Jewish vision of a just society, our inspiring speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates, the Honorable Eileen Filler-Corn.

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