Karen Lewis taught a powerful lesson from the Torah at a synagogue in Evanston.

This is the rabbi’s account of her moving reading of Numbers, in which she connects the Biblical story to recent events in Chicago.

“Her portion, Shelach Lecha (Numbers 13:1-15:41) relates, among other things, the story of the twelve scouts send by by Moses to report on the Promised Land. Ten of them return with words of discouragement – they reported that they saw giants in the land. “We felt like grasshoppers to ourselves,” they said, “”and so we must have looked to them!”

“In her presentation, she pointed out that forces of domination in society can often have this effect on us. In the case of Chicago schools, it is easy to feel cowed by the powerful political-corporate interests that are decimating public education in our city – and in fact, in cities around the nation. The key, Lewis said, is not to be daunted or to give in to a slave mentality that “idealizes Egypt.” The answer, as ever, is to organize and fight back.”

Once again, the powerful oppress the weak. It falls to us to defend the powerless. We must not be intimidated by the oppressor.