Parashat Tetzaveh

Responsible Clothing

Following the example of the High Priest's bands, issue bracelets can raise awareness--the awareness of their wearer.

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But it wasn't enough for Aaron to just remember. The Torah describes the priests' preparations for their duties with the expression limalei yad--to fill the hand. Aaron sees the people's names, passes them through his heart, and then performs sacrifices with his hands. The act of heart-filled remembrance leads directly and immediately to concrete action, the filling of the hand.

Following the example of the High Priest's bands, issue bracelets can raise awareness--the awareness of their wearer. They succeed when they motivate personal and specific action. 

A short time ago, I discovered that my pension investments might be helping to fund the genocide that I wear plastic jewelry to protest. Using on-line tools to search my portfolio, I identified Fidelity mutual funds containing companies targeted for divestment.

Wearing the green bracelets over these weeks has thus taken on new poignancy. Along with AJWS, the Union for Reform Judaism, the state of California, and many others, I plan to divest from targeted companies funding the genocide in Sudan. The bracelets remind me of the concrete actions my hands have yet to perform. 

The Latin verb, vestire, to clothe, carries the sense of dressing someone in the garments of a specific office or power. The garments are symbols of the individual's ability to fulfill an ordained purpose. This certainly applies to Aaron's holy vestments. By wearing them, he becomes capable of performing duties of communal responsibility. 

What would it mean to feel that awareness bracelets could do the same? Can they be worn as reminders of our power to concretely act and create change?

I will wear my green bracelets until my targeted funds have been transferred. After that, I think I'll remove them from my wrists and hang them on my computer monitor. There, I hope they will remind me to protest the genocide through continued donations, letters, petitions, and self-education. Like the garments of the High Priest, issue bracelets can connect what our eyes see with what fills the heart and hands.

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Rabbi Dorothy A. Richman

Rabbi Dorothy A. Richman is the Rabbi Martin Ballonoff Memorial Rabbi-in-Residence at Berkeley Hillel.