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On Shabbat, We Marched

On Shabbat, We Marched

Marchers with banner for Women's March

In Jewish tradition, prayer begins when a minyan is assembled. This gathering of at least ten people creates an instant community and provides a sense of solidarity and strength that sustains in times of trial and in times of joy.

This past Shabbat, a super-minyan of more than 1000 Reform Jews came together in a Washington, DC hotel ballroom near the National Mall for Nosh, Pray, March: The Reform Movement Gathers for Women’s Rights. This instant community was united in its determination to protect women’s reproductive rights, pay equity, racial justice, immigration, LGBT equality and more issues of social justice that are at stake. Make no mistake: these issues are not new, and the challenges were as present last week as they are this week.  At the same time, we face what Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. called the “fierce urgency of now:” an understanding of the imperative to protect rights that are being challenged in new and often unprecedented ways. 

Jonah Pesner speaking to group at Nosh, Pray, March

Meeting these challenges will take community and commitment. The DC Nosh, Pray, March gathering and those like it that happened among Reform Movement communities nationwide was not just about a day marching for justice; it was about creating a community that will act, fortify and celebrate together in the times to come. When access to abortion is placed at risk as the House of Representatives seeks to do this week, our community will raise its voice in a chorus of objection. When millions face the loss of their health insurance, our community will respond with a resounding “no.” When young adults who were brought to the U.S. as children fear deportation from the country they love and want to contribute to, our community will build a wall of opposition. When policy makers work to ensure no individual can lose a job because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, act to affirm the nation’s status as a place of refuge for those fleeing persecution, and legislate to protect voting rights for every eligible voter, our community will rise to make these goals a reality.

May each of us draw upon the memories of this weekend and find sustenance, joy, and inspiration. And may we remember the words of Pirke Avot (2:21): It is not your job to complete the task, but neither are you free to desist from it.


Barbara Weinstein is the associate director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, where she directs legislative policy. She is also the director of the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism.


Barbara Weinstein