Our God and God of all people,
Two days ago, the eyes of our nation and the entire world were focused on a court room in Minneapolis, Minnesota - a city I love dearly having served there 34 years ago as a young Rabbi fresh out of Rabbinical School. I spent 9 wonderful years there. It was in Minneapolis that I met my wife, and both of our children were born in the Twin cities. This past Wednesday, our nation and people of conscience around the world held our collective breaths as Derek Chauvin, a former Minneapolis Police officer was convicted on three counts of murdering George Floyd. The video of the agonizing 9 minutes and 29 seconds it took from the moment that Chauvin’s knee was pressed into the back of his victim as he pleaded for life showed, in graphic detail, how easy it was for a human being to descend into the depths of depravity and evil. We then saw how the despair of those who had lost faith in the system and were convinced that justice was not possible was replaced by jubilation mixed with pent-up grief as a family and a nation learned that this time, at least, the system would be held accountable.
While justice was served in that courtroom, we all know that three guilty verdicts do not change the world overnight. That will take hard work, painful soul-searching, dialogue and meaningful prayer.
God, we ask for your help as we look deep into ourselves and our souls and pose essential questions about the meaning of hatred, racism and inequality. Let us question everything and remember that there were times in the not-so-distant past when this sacred chamber and others like it were used to maintain and sustain systems of oppression that all too often were created and enforced by those who used Your name in vain to prop up the status quo.
God - grant your blessings on our Great State of Colorado. Guide these legislators and those who work within these walls with the ability to shut out the noise of political posturing and hear, feel and respond to the pain, distrust and grief of too many of our citizens. Now is a time for study, dialogue and healing. While divisions and disagreements will always exist in the messy arena of crafting legislation, may any conflicts that do arise be for the sake of the common good. In this time of division, let us build on the yearning for justice and reconciliation that we are witnessing on the streets of Minneapolis and around the world. May demonization give way to declarations of solidarity and a desire to learn from the past - so that it may never be repeated.
We have work to do - all of us: from those crafting the laws, to those whose privileges have been gifted by the color of their skin or the accidents of birth. Help us to see Your presence in the faces of those whom we fear and those who fear us.
May we all live up to the promises of hope that brought us here today.