Finding Hope

June 28, 2022fredi Bleeker Franks

Thursday night's passage of a bi-partisan gun bill filled me with hope, even as the Supreme Court ruled against New York, which forces some states to actually loosen their gun regulations. As the old expression goes - one step forward, one step back. For me, the bipartisan bill seems like a victory, and I applaud the Senator from the Great State of Texas, Senator John Cornyn, for his important role in bringing this bill to the Senate floor. Senator Cornyn persisted, even though this bill did not have the support of his many in his own party. This was made clear at the Texas Republican Convention, held in Houston this month. Senator Cornyn was booed, and the delegates issued a rebuke for his work on this critical bill. Those same delegates went on to pass a platform that called for treating homosexuality as an "abnormal lifestyle choice", called for Texas students to be taught about the "Humanity of the Unborn Child" and stating that gender identity disorder is a "genuine and extremely rare mental health disorder" requiring official documents to adhere to biological gender, calling gender-affirming surgery medical malpractice. These are only a few planks in the platform.

While I know that much of this platform will never be incorporated in the National Republican Party platform, and certainly not ever become law, as a Reform Jew, as a thinking, caring individual, I am saddened by this rhetoric. My Jewish values tell me that every person, regardless of sexual orientation or identity, is created b'tzelem Elohim - in the image of God, and is equally valued. My tradition teaches that while every life is precious, life does not begin at conception.

For many of us, the hyperbole expressed in the platform hits close to home. We have transgender children, in the process of gender affirming surgery. Our children are gay or we are in same-sex relationships. Our elderly parents want to vote, as is their right, but voter suppression laws being passed make that more difficult. For me - I have three granddaughters who are growing up in an increasingly frightening time, where it seems that their ability to live honest, open lives is being challenged.

For my grandchildren, and for all of us feeling unseen, alienated, dehumanized and scared, I want to offer some hope. You are not alone. There are many of us who stand by you, who hear and see you, and who will continue to fight for your rights, alongside you.

As the Chair of RAC-TX, I spend most of my time talking to people all across Texas - both Republicans and Democrats - who are determined to fight for decency and, to be clear, for democracy. All across North America there are people working collectively, across lines of difference, to protect our lives, our bodies and our humanity.

I love quotes, and this week I found a quote which calls to me, and I hope calls to each of you to continue to do the work of tikkun olam - repairing the world, even when it is, like the gun bill, one step forward and one step back. It comes from Elie Wiesel. "There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest."

One time honored way to protest is to go to the polls - to vote. I implore you to exercise your right to vote and to join me and so many others in working to end voter suppression in this country. The Religious Action Center's Every Voice, Every Vote campaign is the Reform Movement's organized effort to ensure free and fair elections.

Despite the efforts others might make to push this country back generations, I have hope. Good people doing good work will prevail. Martin Luther King reminded us that "the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice. This, I believe with all my heart.

Related Posts

A Letter to the 118th Congress

January 3, 2023
This is the cover note of a letter to the 118th Congress outlining the Reform Jewish Movement's policy priorities and urging all Members of Congress to join us in pursuit of a more just and equitable world.

Favorite Jewish Teachings from Leaders of Color

June 2, 2022
In honor of Shavuot and the Giving of the Torah, I have been spending some time reflecting on some of my favorite teachings from Jewish sacred literature, both those that resonate with me, and those that feel most important or most timely.

Pride 2022: Celebrating and Fighting for LGBTQ+ Equality in June and Beyond

May 27, 2022
In the story of creation, the first story we read in the Torah, we learn that every person is created b'tzelem Elohim - in the holy image of God (Genesis 1:27). Discrimination against any person arising from apathy, insensitivity, ignorance, fear, or hatred is inconsistent with this fundamental belief. It is this principle that guides that Reform Movement's advocacy for LGBTQ+ equality.