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Safe Space -- Chronicle Online/The WORD 12/08/22

Weekly On-line Rabbi's D'var-Torah

December 8, 2022

14 Kislev 5783


Just yesterday, the Houston police responded to a 911 call and found a 14-year-old girl with self-inflicted wounds. This particular situation became newsworthy when people found out that the young girl’s father is famous. But, I don’t really care who her father is. I care about the fact that a 14-year-old girl harmed herself. The truth is that suicide is the second leading cause of death among people aged 10 to 24 in this country. And LGBTQ teens are four times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers. However, the rate of suicide attempts among LGBTQ teens who have family support is reduced by half compared to those LGBTQ teens who experience no family support. Having another supportive adult in their lives—a teacher, counselor, or clergy—can help, but nothing can replace the support of one’s family. All these statistics come from the Trevor Project. In the Jewish community, I am proud to be listed in Keshet’s Equality Directory. That means that individuals or families can feel safe discussing LGBTQ issues with me. This week’s Torah portion describes Jacob's returning home after 20 years. He had to leave home because he didn’t feel safe there. If we go back to Jacob’s childhood years, the Torah tells us that, “Isaac favored Esau because he had a taste for game [and Esau was a capable hunter] but Rebecca favored Jacob (Genesis 25:28).” One parent—Isaac—loved one of his children because that child behaved a certain way. The other parent—Rebecca—loved unconditionally. It is no surprise, really, that the child who was loved unconditionally is the one who became the true heir to his parents. Every child should feel safe in their home. Every child should be loved unconditionally. When we adults fail to provide that safety and that love, young people respond by harming themselves. We cannot allow that to continue. Please join me in creating safe and loving spaces for the young people who need it the most. Shalom, RAF.

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