I believe that our political leaders have failed us.
They want us to believe that their words don’t matter. But we know that words matter a great deal. Ask any 10-year-old. It’s called a “tongue lashing” for a reason.
The vile language from the highest levels of government is echoed by countless politicians on both sides who are saying terrible things about each other. The disdain for common decencies, much less the truth, is insidious, poisonous. It creeps into everyday discourse, and erupts in acts of violence and hatred.
And this week, because something truly dreadful happened, wonderful things began to happen. Synagogues across the nation received bouquets of flowers with notes of caring and compassion. Small fundraising campaigns blossomed into tens of thousands of dollars raised. Hundreds of vigils were attended by thousands of people, singing together, talking together, mourning together.
Faith leaders from every religion and every-day citizens alike are stepping forward to heal the broken places in our society.
And although our so-called leaders have already done a great deal of damage, repair is still possible. It is possible because we are a nation made primarily of immigrants, people who left everything behind and ventured into the unknown with courage, with conviction, and most importantly, with hope.
Tomorrow night, our nation has been asked to #ShowUpForShabbat. The call has gone out to Jews and non-Jews alike. To people who are regular synagogue goers, and people who have never set foot in one.
It is an opportunity for all of us to stand together, at the same time, across this great nation. It is time for civility, it is time for community, it is time for constructive conversations between and among people who have never spoken to one another before.
I am a member of the Sarasota Ministerial Association, where I have met and befriended many people from different religious backgrounds. This Shabbat, several of them have accepted my invitation to join Congregation Kol HaNeshama at our Friday night services.
Mine is just one tiny congregation. I have no delusions that we will be able to change the world. But I know that we have a responsibility to do our part.
It has become almost a cliché to quote Hillel’s words from the Ethics of the Sages. But today, as they have always done, they ring true:
If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
And if I am for myself alone, what am I?
And if not now, when?
Barry Bub said:
A beautiful posting and yet if ever there was a time for honesty its now. For Jews it’s our moment of truth. It’s not “countless politicians on all sides” The principal instigator of hate speech is the president and his collaborators, including sadly many Jews who choose to support him and vote for the politicians who enable him. This is not being political, this is being honest and it relates to Jewish ethical values that are being trashed.