Rabbi Brett Krichiver shared this message at a press conference with faith leaders about the redistricting process on September 1, 2021 at the Indiana Statehouse.
What does it mean to speak with a prophetic voice? The biblical prophets themselves were not always comfortable with their task. The prophet Jonah heard God calling him to Nineveh to speak truth to power, and instead he fled. He hid from all who would call him to this sacred duty. But what is interesting about Jonah is that he runs away from the prophetic voice not because he is afraid he won’t be heard. He is afraid he will be heard. He fears his own success.
We gather today to find our own prophetic voice. Inspired by the caring and wise clergy who have spoken here today, the challenge still lies before us. Today is only a beginning. Gerrymandering has been a part of politics since 1812 and the very beginning of our Republic. We cannot change two hundred years of tradition, but we can rise up, and in one single unified clear moment of prophecy – we can magnify the voices of all those who have been disenfranchised, silenced, disregarded. Voters choose their representatives, not the other way around. You work for us, and by playing the redistricting game – do not be mistaken – you are attacking the right to vote, and you are weakening the voting power of communities of color.
Perhaps we are too afraid to fight harder for what is right, and for what is right in front of us.
In a few short days, we will mark Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of the New Year for the Jewish community. These days are a special time to reflect on the lives we have lived, and the lives we will build in the coming year. These are days of atonement.
We take responsibility for the inequities in voting rights in this country; this is a change that should have happened long ago. We admit our failures to wrestle with a long American history of systemic racism, embodied by unfair redistricting practices done behind closed doors by the very people who most benefit from this particular form of oppression.
Indiana’s legislature has a moral, ethical, and legal responsibility to represent all of Indiana’s citizens – Fair redistricting is a powerful tool in the fight against institutional racism. We call upon our government to represent us fairly, and to task an independent commission with the drafting of changes.
Let us fight racism wherever we find it
Let us stand together, as communities of faith and people of every color in the rainbow.
And let us continue to find strength in this time of the Jewish New Year, to use our voice of prophecy.