taking the words of Jesus seriously

EDITOR’S NOTE: In 14 state capitals across the US, faith and justice leaders are organizing a Moral Week of Action to conclude the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, in which he exhorted the crowd to “go home” to Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi to work for justice.

As a faith-rooted organizing effort, the Moral Week of Action is grounded in prayer. RLC is sharing daily meditations from movement leaders. Catch up on meditations from previous days here:

Day 1: Labor and Economic Justice, by Dr. Rodney Sadler

Day 2: Education, by Rev. Nancy Petty

Day 3: Equal Protection Under the Law, by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove

Day 4: Youth-led Struggles, by Rev. Jimmy Hawkins

Today, as we remember the 94th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote in America,  Rabbi Lucy Dinner offers the following meditation on the Daughters of Zelophachad.


Holy One of Blessing, the Shofar is the call to return to the core values of existence—the call to return to our highest selves, to examine our lives before you. O Holy One of Blessing, help us to examine how our lives bring blessing.


Today we sound the shofar, calling on our elected officials to examine the inequality in the lives of women. From the Holy Scriptures in the book of Numbers, the plight of the daughters of Zelophachad teaches of the place of women in an era where women’s rights were measured only at the bidding of their father or husband. Yet, even in Biblical times these women brought their complaint straight to Moses—to the seat of leadership. They demanded protection and fair treatment; they disputed the law that discriminated against women; and God granted their portion.


We stand today, on the 94th anniversary of womens’ suffrage in America, like our fore-mothers, the Daughters of Zelophahad. We bring our complaint straight to the leadership of our states. Hear us loud and clear: We are women and families, and the issues we care about matter.




Hear our voice:


• The economic stability and success of women directly correlates with the stability and success of our state.


Like the daughters of Zelophachad, we stand to tell our legislators that economic disparity is not acceptable because: WE MATTER.


• Women working full time in North Carolina, my home state, make an average of $33, 459 per year while men who hold full-time jobs average $41, 950 per year. Yet NC legislators refuse to take up legislation guaranteeing equal protection under the law.


Like the daughters of Zelophachad, we stand to tell our legislators that this disparity is not acceptable because: WE MATTER.


• Women’s health and reproductive rights have been usurped by legislation assaulting women’s sovereignty over our own bodies.


Like the daughters of Zelophachad, we speak up to tell our legislators that assaulting our sovereignty over our bodies is not acceptable because: WE MATTER.


• The regressive tax laws enacted by extremists in the North Carolina legislature punish the women of North Carolina in disproportionate numbers.


Like the daughters of Zelophachad, we speak out to tell our legislators that disproportionate tax laws hurt women and families. WE MATTER.

In the tradition of those brave Daughters of Zelophachad, who would not remain silent in the face of discrimination against women, we stand today before the legislators of North Carolina and thirteen other states to let them know that WE MATTER


Let the shofar awaken them. Let us not be silent until women’s rights are restored.


Blow the Shofar.


Holy One of Blessing, as we blow the Shofar, may you tear down these walls of injustice that discriminate against women’s rights! May you tear down the walls of unequal pay and lack of parity! May you tear down the walls of diminished status and second-class citizenship! May you tear down the walls of inequality and may all women be respected and protected! As Moses ruled in favor of Zelophachad’s daughters, may you rule in favor of women rights today! Amen.

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