Kol Ami — The Northern Virginia Reconstructionist Community
Many of us remain on edge since the hostage situation at the Colleyville synagogue in January, where a rabbi invited in a stranger and was met with violence. We are hyper-alert to danger, and who can blame us? In addition to security concerns, we also have obligations and traditions about tzedakah and our encounters with strangers. How do we take on the mitzvah of “loving the stranger” as the Torah instructs us to do over and over? When and how do we overcome our suspicions and fears? We are taught by our tradition that if a person asks for food, we must not question him or her, just give. What is a reasonable amount to give? How do we come to trust a stranger’s story? And what are our obligations if we don’t trust them? What are signs that move us from suspicion over a request for money to fear over safety? Put in very practical terms, when do we press a panic button, when not?
There are no clear answers to all these questions, but we should have this conversation, together.