The morning was given over to Faith Communities: Looking Forward and Working Together.
The Rev. Dr. Bernice Powel Jackson, President and Moderator of the WCC for North America spoke of her experience pastoring a church in New Orleans and the slow laborious road to restoration of the city. How do we move from charity to justice? By making the rebuilding of New Orleans a priority of our synagogues and congregations. By keeping this on the agenda of public discussions in this election year and not just writing but visiting our congresspersons and staff to declare their accountability on this issue to us and to our congregations.
Rabbi Marla Feldman, Director of the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism, spoke of the Massachusetts Health Care initiative being instigated by faith communities listening to the stories of people without health care or with restricted access to it. Our mandates for speaking out are from the Holiness Code of Leviticus and the Hebrew Prophets; from the notion that humanity is created in the divine image and God's covenant with creation. She spoke of not waiting for consensus to emerge in our faith communities but creating a climate for social change.
To be reminded of the biblical mandates for implementation of religious values and social justice in our society is a good thing for a biblical scholar. And to hear from such excellent speakers as these, in addition to E.J. Dionne last night, was a priviledge. I know it's not kosher for a New Yorker to be star-struck, but the arrival of Gloria Steinem in the refectory for dinner last night as the guest of Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun was unforgettable!