Looking Forward, Not Back, To Continue Judaism

The parsha VaYeira has the amazing story of Sodom, Gomorrah, and Lot’s Family, but I want to focus on Lot’s wife. As she was leaving, the city was being burned and she couldn’t help but look back. She looked back even though she knew a great consequence awaited her. She looked back because she wanted to have one last look at her family that was left behind. She is forever left in the desert looking back, trapped in salt never to see what could have been had she had the confidence to focus on the future.

There is a lot of talk these days about the Jewish people and how we will not be around in 2 or 3 generations. How the world as we know it is no more and going up in flames. That being Jewish is in the sunset of existence. In some sad ways, this is true. The 50’s and 60’s era of Judaism is fading away. The first generation Americans are now having dinner with third generation grandkids.

The very front-facing memories of the Holocaust are now fading into stories told in the third person or read in books. Israel is not a new far away place, rather a real-life, living, established homeland that we can visit. The role of women as strictly the guardians of the cookbooks and secret brisket recipes is changing to include all gender expression lovers of food.

We, as a people, are Lot’s wife. We are looking back when we need to soon turn and look forward to the future – or we will not have one. We will look back on these times as a people that used the foundations of Judaism to transition anew. To show that women, men, LGBTQ, and people of color all need to be at the table talking. We are standing at a time that needs change, that needs to look back fondly on the recent past just like our Grandparents looked at Tevia the Milkman shaking his tush to “If I was a Rich Man!” The Funny thing is that our kids and the next generation will look to us and laugh at the beginnings of the internet age and the start of watching or live streaming High Holiday Services on a cell phone in a Starbucks.

It will do us, the Jewish people, no good to sit and look back and be turned to a pillar of salt. We must look forward and continue the story and live as a people of transition that holds fast to the foundations of this ever-changing people-hood.