Congressman Levin Shares Statement on Yom Kippur
September 27, 2020
WARREN, MI – Congressman Andy Levin (MI-09) today shared a statement on the closing celebration of the Jewish New Year, Yom Kippur: "As we Jews prepare to gather for our Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, I am thinking about the Kol Nidre prayer that gets us going tonight. It is my favorite religious moment of the year, in part because I love the haunting melody. But it shakes me to the core not only because of the song, but the ideas behind it. Kol Nidre calls us to take responsibility for each other in a radical way. As our Reconstructionist prayer book translates the Hebrew, 'We accept into our midst whoever seeks to pray. Whether righteous or unrighteous, all shall pray as one community.' "We pray collectively, each taking responsibility for the whole group, even those we may see as the most immoral, asking that all of the vows and commitments we made last year be dissolved, so we can start over with a clean slate and seek to do better in the year ahead, starting right now. "What a time for each of us to take responsibility for the whole group! While the context of Kol Nidre may be Jews coming together to pray, I envision stretching out my net of faith and communion to all people. "It’s hard enough to reflect on my own shortcomings and seek to atone for the many ways I have fallen short. In this time when division seems to be a purposeful political tool, including the routine use of anti-Semitic tropes along with other forms of bigotry, am I able to open my heart to all, humbly accepting the humanity of those who I feel are most responsible for dividing us? "At a moment when it feels like people in power are putting all principle aside to cement control in undemocratic ways, can I set down my armor for a moment to atone for the sins of the whole world, without exception? "Am I ready to allow all of the problems we humans have caused to wash over me, accept the reality of them, put blame aside and agree to do my best to solve them and to heal our world? "One of the most beautiful aspects of Judaism, to me, is the way it organizes us to take responsibility for each other. On Yom Kippur, this aspect reaches its zenith. Please excuse me for stepping aside from all political battles for twenty-four hours and going deep inside myself to find the resources to be the best friend, ally and yes, good trouble maker I can be. Lord knows, we will need all of the spiritual resources (whatever that means to each of us) in the days ahead."