By Rabbi Noah Farkas, rabbi at Valley Beth Shalom in Encino, CA and JOIN for Justice Board Member
This piece was originally posted on JewishJournal.com.
Last Thursday, I met two extraordinary gentlemen in the span three hours. I was invited, along with hundreds of other Jewish leaders from across the country, to Washington D.C. to gather in the “People’s House” to celebrate the conclusion of Chanukah. My good friend and congregant, Janice Kamenir Reznik, an inspiring leader and founder of Jewish World Watch, invited me along to experience this momentous occasion because of my work inside and out of Valley Beth Shalom pushing for social change. Standing at the entrance to Southern Gate I gazed back along the long line including rabbis, activists, scholars and philanthropists. I couldn’t help but reflect that President Obama would the second amazing leader I would meet that evening. I should start with the first.
Just an hour before I entered the White House I was sitting in a tent on the National Mall with a group of Latino activists who are fasting for many days to inspire our nation to reform immigration law. I came with Karla Van Praag, the Executive Director of JOIN for Justice, a prominent Jewish organization that trains leaders for social change. We met with the leader of the fast, an inspiring man named Eddie Carmona. He grew up in California’s Central Valley and has witnessed, time and again, his own and other families torn apart by U.S. immigration policies. He showed me a shoe found on the border between Arizona and Mexico that belonged to a man who died in the desert trying to make a better life for himself and his family. Eddie has been fasting since December 1st, and has inspired thousands of others to join him in this effort called Fasting for Families.