Do Not Stand Idly By

Do Not Stand Idly By…
Leviticus 19:16

What a difficult week this has been. We read about a 16-year-old girl attending a gay pride parade in Jerusalem who was stabbed to death, along with five others who sustained less serious wounds. We read about a baby in the West Bank who was burned to death by Jewish terrorists; the surviving parents and siblings are in critical condition. And lest we think those things only happen in “other places”, we read about the child in Santa Cruz, living in a peaceful art community, who was kidnapped, sexually assaulted, and murdered by a 15 year old neighbor whom she knew well. And in a Louisiana movie theater, a gunman shot and killed 2 moviegoers and wounded 9 others before taking his own life.

“Do not stand idly by” is actually a Talmudic interpretation of the admonition in Torah, which actually states: “Do not profit by the blood of your fellow.” The commandment in Torah could be interpreted to mean do nothing that endangers another at the expense of your own well-being.

For your participation in this week’s mitzvah, I direct you to two specific issues. The first is “Do Not Stand Idly By: A Jewish Community Pledge to Save Lives”, the first campaign in the Jewish community to draw attention to homophobic and transphobic bullying. On the website, you will read of a pledge to stand up against demeaning or bullying treatment of anyone due to real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. For more information, go to:

The second issue is reducing gun violence. The URJ is supporting the campaign to press gun manufacturers to create safer dealer networks and smart gun technology. For more information about this campaign, check out and/or

Of course, these are not the only areas where this mitzvah applies. We have many opportunities to help others in need: poverty, hunger, and the environment and more. There is much to be done, and we are obligated to do what we can.

May you have a week of blessings and a Shabbat of peace,
Rabbi Debbie Israel