By Rabbi Mark Borovitz
I am still in awe from an experience I had this past week! On Wednesday evening, I had the honor and privilege of having a dialogue with Father Gregory Boyle of Homeboy Industries. Father G, as he is known to the homies, is a man of deep faith, deep thought, generosity of spirit and who is also quite brilliant. He is the epitome of what I aspire to be, a simple man who knows and lives God's Will in every part of his life. Father Greg has impacted the lives of tens of thousands of people positively by just being who he is, a man who lives his principles of kindness, caring, love, truth and compassion all the time.
We spoke about Redemption, which is always a fitting subject and especially this time of year in the Jewish Tradition. It was a fascinating hour+ discussion for the 150+ people who attended and the video of it will be on our website, www.beittshuvah.org sometime this weekend. Please watch it, I know it will lift your spirit and give you much to reflect on in your own life.
Father G's point was and is: STOP SEEING THE OTHER AND MARGINALIZING PEOPLE! I add the capital letters because I think that we make too many excuses and rationalizations to keep doing is. Father Boyle said it so well, lets expand the circle so we step on the margins and make them disappear. Lets see every person as human, no matter what their actions are and have been. This doesn't mean that there are not consequences for bad behaviors; it means that we don't dehumanize even those people who have dehumanized others. This is so hard for most of us. We want to differentiate ourselves from "the other." Yet, Father G teaches us to see the other as part of WE. This follows Jewish Teaching so fully.
At this time of Elul, I suggest and recommend that all of us do T’Shuvah with those that we have marginalized and made into the other. This way, we will create the messianic world of our dreams and in the words of the Prophets: "Swords will be turned into plowshares and men will learn war no more." Please follow the example and emulate the life of Father Greg Boyle, a modern day Prophet, and lets stamp out the lines that separate and create a circle where all of us are part of it.
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