Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it. Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give it”—when you have it with you.
“I’m stuck.” It’s the new phrase from the toddler. He will race around the living room pushing his car or wagon and when he encounters an obstacle, he calls out that he’s stuck. We usually let him pause and try to solve it himself and then ask if he wants help. He’s learning. Last week was tough for our brothers and sisters of the Jewish community after the hostage standoff in Texas. My rabbi friend from nearby Dor Tamid (who held their Rosh Hashanah service in our parking lot just two years ago) had lived and worked just ten minutes away and is dear friends with the rabbi who was held captive. When we asked at our clergy meeting what we could do to support them, his invitation was simple, “join us for worship this Shabbat.”
On Friday night, I attended the service with seven other clergy from our group, the Johns Creek PD chief and captain, the mayor, and other civic leaders. Rabbi Jordan shared the prayer from Rabbi Charlie that they’d prayed that week, and his own message about how we respond to continued tragedies, violence, and bigotry. He asked us if we feel stuck in fear or helpless, to move forward, and encouraged us to do our part. He asked us to speak up when we hear and see bigotry, hate, and antisemitism. He reminded us we can be targets for our faith and that we are together when any person of faith is attacked, ridiculed, or demeaned. In other words, when we feel stuck, ask for help or offer it.
We are God’s children, and we face challenges each day, and so does everyone around us. We have a God who hears us when we call out, and who calls us to reach out when others need our help getting unstuck. We cannot take a day off. When our neighbor says they can’t imagine a way forward after a tough week, we can offer to pray with them, listen, go with them to their house of prayer, and pledge to speak up for them. And do it. This week, it would be easy to let this story pass by with a simple, “it could have been worse,” or, “it happens too much.” But we are called to denounce such evil and work to build a better world.