The story is one you’ve probably heard, or read, at some point in your life.
His childhood was a rough one. His home wasn’t peaceful.
He wanted to be good. To do good. To learn and to thrive.
He didn’t have full control over all the choices before him, but he never wanted to deceive anyone.
But his Mom needed him to do it. To lie, when necessary. To blur the lines, disrupt the order of things.
Maybe it was for her, but more likely for his own good. For his future. And so he followed her lead.
And then he was on a journey for which there was no turning back. He fled, leaving everything he had ever known. He had to. His life was actually in danger. He crossed into unknown territory. He was Scared. Tired.
Talking to anyone—even asking for help—was precarious, lest they realize who he was and what he was running from.
One night It was getting dark so he slept outside under the stars. It wasn’t comfortable, but at least he had a place to rest his head. And there he had a dream. A remarkable dream.
Visions of boundaries erased, figures glowing with dignity, heavenly even. And in this dream, he was promised by what seemed to be the powers that be, a chance to live that very dream. The dream that he could remain in the land he was currently resting. And, even more, his descedants would be able live here as well.
And they would be blessed. People would treat them as blessings. He dreamed he would be protected.
And then he woke up. Or maybe he was woken up. And he said:
“Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not....How full of awe is this place!” (Genesis 28:16-17)
This is the story of the biblical Jacob. Isaac and Rebecca’s son. Abraham and Sarah’s grandson.
Our forefather who had a tumultous childhood. He had a mother who blurred the lines of morality—and the law of the land—to make sure he would receive a blessing, a future, worthy of his humanity. He was a child who became a man and fled for his own safety, slept with his head on a rock, dreamed with God, and then, ultimately, became Israel.
His story is my story and your story, generally, and, particularly and quite literally, very likely someone from each our families at some point in the family tree.
But I worry that as we slowly wake up, as the Dreamers among us are abruptly woken up, the words that barreled out of Jacob’s mouth—God was in this place—don’t so easily roll off their lips.
The journey now has a timeline. An end date. Which produces a clarion call.
Each of us has the capacity to open the heavens and let God in—to be the ladder filled with angels, and the angels themselves. Let’s remember that in the same way that Jacob struggled and wrestled, wholeheartedly, and deserved the chance to become Israel, so many Dreamers among us ought receive that same opportunity to transcend whatever the other-imposed definition, and become, simply, American.
Bimheira B’yameinu - speedily in our days.