“The world is a narrow bridge / but the main thing is not to fear”

I first learned about the 1980s Sanctuary movement from Tucson’s Rabbi Joe Weizenbaum. He said he remembered being asked, from time to time, why he was a part of a largely church-led movement. His response, which I can no longer remember word for word, was to the effect that Sanctuary wasn’t just a Christian business—that we Jews belonged there too.

I thought about Rabbi Joe’s words after watching yesterday’s nationwide #JewsAgainstIce protests against the internment and abuse of immigrants and asylum-seekers in ICE detention camps, held on Tisha b’Av, a Jewish day of deep mourning.

And I especially thought about them after hearing the protesters singing.

I’d gotten so used to songs of protest being either Christian or secular. I knew that the songs I grew up singing in synagogue—the songs that I still sing there, and at home as well—had things to say about survival and justice and healing the world, but those weren’t the songs that I sang while holding signs at rallies and marches and in front of my representatives’ offices.

So hearing protestors singing Oseh Shalom, or Gesher Tzar Me’od, or Hinei Ma Tov—it broke me open a little, in a good way. It said to me not just that Jews belong here, but that we’re needed, that we’re here for a reason, that have our own unique and critical role to play, a part of the larger picture where so many people are playing unique and critical roles to heal this country and this world.

I’m sharing some clips of that music—so that I can come back to them when I need to, so that I can share them, so that you can hear them too.

Inside the ICE detention center in Seattle yesterday. Hinei Ma Tov … “How good it is when all of us dwell together.”
At the Amazon store in New York yesterday (Amazon has contracts to provide technology to ICE). Gesher Tsar Me’Od … “The world is a narrow bridge, but the main thing is not to fear.”
Outside ICE headquarters in Washington, DC last month.Oseh Shalom … “May the one who makes peace in the heavens make peace for us and for all the world.”
And back in Seattle again, not a song, but the Mourner’s Kaddish.

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