A Rabbi’s lesson of power, community and hope

BTL Staff
By | 2018-01-16T03:34:53-05:00 August 2nd, 2007|Uncategorized|

In this issue we report on bigots in Waterford terrorizing a mentally disabled gay man, and that a Windsor murderer remains at large. The Ku Klux Klan is set to march in Kalamazoo this weekend, and our previous coverage of their plans has prompted an influx of emails to the paper from white supremacists in Michigan and elsewhere, some accusing this “Jew-owned” paper of trying to manipulate people of color. (A co-owner of the paper, Susan Horowitz, is Jewish.)
Such things are enough to turn your stomach.
We also report in this issue on the passing of Rabbi Sherwin Wine, a man who had a profound faith in the human capacity for love, community, tolerance and learning. His life example stands in stark contrast to the small, scared and dangerous actions of skinheads and the KKK who promote violence against innocent victims in an effort to prove their “supremacy.”
Even in his death, Rabbi Wine can teach us about hope and how to bring about real change.
“For me, a good religion doesn’t make people feel weak and needy and force them outside to find power. A good religion,” Wine, 79, once told The Detroit News, “helps you find the power within yourself.”
He did not believe in God, which made him a controversial figure among religious Jews. But he believed in the basic goodness of people and their power to solve problems and shape the world.
If we were to share that faith in ourselves and in each other, we could find the power to face unsettling news and not be overwhelmed. As economic pressures continue to mount in Michigan, we should expect to see more people give up and blame others for their troubles, like skinheads, KKK members and others who see the woes of the world as the fault of blacks, gays, Jews and other minorities.
But rather than join them in fear, we can learn from Rabbi Wine who would instead ask us to look within ourselves, not at others, to find answers. Regardless of whether we accept his religious doctrines, his profound thinking and writing about the power of the individual, especially individuals acting together in community, he offers the LGBT community of Michigan a great gift of hope.
Wine’s death is a huge loss for his Birmingham Temple congregation and the Humanistic Judaism movement that he founded. It is also a loss for the LGBT community which he embraced as a member and supporter. As we mourn his passing, we can also celebrate his life by maintaining the hope – and the prayer – that we will err on the side of kindness and ingenuity in solving the tough problems ahead.

About the Author:

BTL Staff
Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 25th anniversary.