Friday, August 29, 2014

Shoftim: It's a justice issue

The Hebrew tattooed on Kate’s right arm comes from this week’s parsha. Tzedek tzedek tirdof – justice, justice, you shall pursue. For some Jewish communities, inscribing this onto your body would be a sin – something against justice – but I prefer to see the Torah as a holy scripture that intends justice, and the reminder as holy. But I digress…

Justice is an amorphous concept, but the basic tenants seem to be something along the lines of making things right in the world. It’s hard work, and it feels like there’s so much work still to do. As the news talks about Ferguson, Ebola, and drought, our personal lives have small and large injustices as well. It can be overwhelming.

Yet, there is good news. A friend of mine had a healthy baby this week. (Sequoia, may your roots spread across the earth, ingesting knowledge and kindness, and may you grow up to shelter those beneath you.) This week, I learned alongside friends, one of whom recently came back from her honeymoon. (Caroline, may your marriage be as beautiful as your soul, enriching each other and everyone who is near you.) This week, we got news our adoption home study will be approved and we’ll be “in search” shortly. (May our future be complete with child, who enriches our already beautiful lives.)

Every day there is an opportunity for justice. Laughing with a stranger, giving up your seat on BART, donating money and time, calling a friend, learning together, bringing food to a new family. Sometimes there are opportunities that grow for months and finally emerge in a happy moment – births, marriages, adoptions are the ones on my mind this week.

Among feminists there is a saying, “Every child a wanted child.” Adopting an older child is the right choice for our family, but it’s also a justice issue. There are 55,000 foster care youth in the California system. Each of them should be a wanted child. These are children who, because of no fault of their own, are without a family. After they “age out” of the system, they won’t have a family to celebrate holidays, support them during pregnancy, give them a safety net in case of emergency. These children deserve a family, and we have the capacity to provide it.  

For me, this is how you pursue justice: you make choices that help repair the world. Saving (helping/guiding) a life is saving the world, one piece at a time. Our adopted child (may it be so), will give me the opportunity to do a mitzvah, a good deed, and I am so grateful for the opportunity. Our child will change our lives irrevocably, and infuse our already boisterous house with more love and energy than we could create without them. We will support one another – child and parent – as we, together, pursue justice.