Rabbi Vaisberg had the honor of giving the invocation at the recent NAACP National Convention in Atlantic City. He gave the invocation at the general plenary where the keynote speakers were Derek Johnson, president of the NAACP, and Vice President Kamala Harris.
Good morning, and blessings unto you. It is truly an honor to be with you for this momentous convocation of community and power, here at the NAACP national convention.
My name is David Vaisberg, and I serve as Senior Rabbi of historic Temple B’nai Abraham, of Newark and now Livingston. I am part of a proud chain of rabbis committed to working for social justice, including Rabbi Dr Joachim Prinz, who stood and spoke alongside Dr. King, at Temple B’nai Abraham, and at the March on Washington.
Biblical tradition teaches that God spoke, and the world came into being.
Words create universes, they form humanity, and they giveus visions of the world that ought to be. God spoke and convinced Moses to take up the mantle of leadership. Moses spoke to power, demanding freedom. Miriam spoke, and sang, words that soothed and nourished. And the prophets, they spoke and demanded. They demanded righteousness, they demanded justice, and they did not hold back, even when facing the most intimidating of obstacles. Because they had the power, of holy, creative speech.
At the Passover Seder each year, we Jews speak our story. We knew slavery in Egypt, and we experienced, with the mixed multitudes who joined us, the dawning of liberation. And in our reviewing and re-experiencing this story every year, we bring ourselves back to that reality that liberation for all is what we must continue to work to achieve.
We all, however, know what it is to be silent, to be forced into silence, to be afraid to speak. And we know that oppression and injustice can only exist when those who know better, who dream better, remain silent.
Here, however, I see no room of silence, I see no hesitation, no fear. I see a room of power, of incredible, sacred people, born in the image of God, ready to speak their righteousness, their justice, their power.
May we speak, may we never feel silenced, and may we rejoice in and be blessed through the words pouring forth in this sacred convocation. May these words bring us ever so much closer to wholeness, to goodness, and to liberation. Amen.