Thursday, November 17, 2016
Our Sacred Ideals
Dear chevrei (friends),
I awoke this morning after a late night and woke up our girls to explain to them the results of the election last night. They were upset, but mostly, they were shocked. I feel shocked too. Not at the results per se, but at the difference in the values that I voted for and the clear values statement many voters made yesterday: "I'm angry at the government and its dysfunction; I'm voting for the anti-government candidate." Sadly, I also truly believe that there are those who voted against a woman president, against the progressive gains made by women, people of color and people on the sexuality spectrum over the last eight years.
Yesterday, I voted, proudly, with Limor and our girls based on our Jewish values - for inclusiveness, fairness, equality and tolerance. These are values steeped in the Torah and in our experiences. It is those very experiences that made the rhetoric of this campaign particularly painful to the Jewish community as a whole: race-baiting, anti-Semitism and nationalism have all been used against our people throughout our history. We have a keen sensitivity to such words. Today is the anniversary of Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, where in 1938, the Nazi's officially began their persecutions of the Jews in Germany. There needn't be a link between that day and the election of Donald Trump as the next President of the United States. This date, however, is a reminder that words and votes can lead to terrible outcomes. If...
- If we turn our backs on our responsibility to be engaged citizens, vigilant in making sure that the dangerous words of the campaign do not become dangerous acts.
- If we turn our backs on our religious traditions of treating everyone with the notion that each of us is created in the image of the Divine and therefore should be treated with holiness.
- If we turn our backs on the concept of Tikkun Olam, that we are obligated to work to make our world a better place.
- If we turn our backs on those Americans who feel such despair at their lot in life that a protest vote feels like a last option.
- If we forget, for even one moment, our obligation to teach our children right from wrong, that ends justify the means and that divisiveness is a winning strategy in the long.
Zachor, "remember," the Torah implores us time and time again; remember injustices brought upon us and work to make our world a place of justice. "Justice, justice, shall you pursue!" Justice, we are taught, is not recrimination and revenge, but a balancing of the scales. America is out of balance and we need to do our part to restore the balance. That's what we Jews have done with the gift of American liberties - we've improved out lot in life and used that improved standing to make the lives of others, our country and the world better.
I pray, with all sincerity for the success of Donald Trump's presidency; not on policy grounds, but with the hope that his election spurs in our nation a desire to heal wounds, to right wrongs and to meet the needs of the citizenry. We all bear a role in such a presidency, no matter whom we voted for.
My colleagues, Rabbi Nichols and Cantor Schloss, and I, are here for you. Call, write, stop by. In times of doubt, we need to be together as a beit knesset (synagogue), literally "the house of gathering" is just such a place.
Friday night, we will have our annual Shabbat service in commemoration of Kristallnacht and Veterans Day. The two might seem incongruous, but they are not. We retell the stories of our pain and suffering to remind ourselves of how bleak the world can be, but we also gather to show that we are not powerless and that in our moments of great distress, our nation is capable of unifying under the sacred ideals upon which this country was founded. Join us, pray with us.
On Rosh Hashanah, my sermon ended with our community singing God Bless America. We need God's blessings, as we always have. And God needs us to do our part, to make whole what is broken.
Indeed, God, please bless America, and all Americans,Scott Weiner