In my column this week, I defend the Jews who gathered at the Occupy Wall Street protests to mark the first night of Yom Kippur:
I am not ready to get behind the protesters’ social justice agenda, which seems unformed and scattershot. But I do know plenty of religious people, liberal and conservative alike, who each day grow more dissatisfied with the direction in which they see the country headed. If Jewish introspection and reflection don’t provide a framework for thinking about or responding to the ills of the world as they see them, what’s the point exactly?
For an opposing view, see Seth Chalmer, who blogs for the invaluable Berman Jewish Policy Archive at NYU Wagner:
Speaking personally, it rubs me the wrong way that an occasion for repentance should be mixed up in an occasion of rebuking/protesting the actions of others. Of course all of us should criticize society when we feel societal structures are unjust, but shouldn’t Yom Kippur be a day when it is important to turn around the scrutiny on oneself, focusing on one’s own actions, beliefs, and responsibilities rather than on others? A sermon such as the one quoted above, attacking the greed/idolatry of others (a perfectly appropriate topic for another day) seems to miss the mark, in my opinion, on that day. Yom Kippur should be a day to ask urgently: what am I doing wrong?