Hagar, Ishmael and Black Lives Matter

Rabbi Jonathan Kligler offered this sermon at Rosh Hashanah services at the Woodstock Jewish Congregation on September 19, 2020. Reflecting on the Torah portion that is read on the first day of Rosh Hashanah, Rabbi Jonathan compares Hagar’s anguish as her young son Ishmael is dying of thirst to that of Black mothers today who know they also cannot protect their sons from the violence of a racist society. In the Torah, God hears the boy’s cry and protects him; today it is up to us to respond to and undo the injustices of systemic racism.