Guardians of Each Other

In Uncategorized by Anna Golladay

In the book of Genesis, Cain arrogantly demands of God: Hashomer achi anochi? Am I my brother’s keeper? In the silence that follows his existential question, we answer YES. Yes, we are our brothers’ keepers – our sisters and our brothers of every faith, of no faith and of every race: We are shomrei acheinu, we are our brothers’ keepers.  
When a Muslim woman’s hijab is ripped off her, we tremble as we feel the garment pulled from our bodies, too, for we are shomrei acheinu, our brother’s keepers.  
When young black boys board a bus and are told they belong in the back – our dignity is ruptured with theirs, for we are shomrei acheinu.  
When a man of the Sikh faith is called terrorist and refused water at the marathon, our mouths are parched and our bodies ache with him, for we are shomrei acheinu.   
When a note is left for a gay man saying that his family no longer counts, our families shudder with the threat, for we are shomrei acheinu.   
When an immigrant child cries as his classmates chant “build a wall,” tears stream down our cheeks, too, for we are shomrei acheinu.  
When our Jewish family is sent pictures of gas chambers and are told “we’re heating up the ovens now,” our eyes meet yours because we know you, too, are shomrei acheichem, your brothers’, your sisters’, your neighbors’ keepers.   
We are protectors of you. And you are protectors of us. Together may we be strong enough to feel each other’s pain; may we be blessed enough to celebrate each other’s joys. May we be brave enough to stand side by side when it is dark. And may we have the fortitude to stand side by side until it is light.   
Thank you, God, for the strength to come together, to see one another, to dream into existence a world of peace, a world repaired, a world redeemed. Amen.


Rabbi Stephanie Kolin is associate rabbi of Central Synagogue in New York City. Previously, she served as the co-director of the Union for Reform Judaism‘s Just Congregations and was founding lead organizer for Reform CA, the Reform Movement’s statewide campaign for a more just and compassionate California. Rabbi Kolin was named as a “Game Changer” by the Los Angeles Jewish Journal in 2014, one of Newsweek’s “Rabbis to Watch” in 2013, and one of the Forward’s “America’s Influential Women Rabbis” in 2010.

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