Walking along Ben Gurion Street in Tel Aviv yesterday, a stranger walked up to me and said ‘Mazel Tov.’ I asked why mazel tov? He said ‘we have a new President!’
The English news tv channels at my hotel were BBC, Sky and Fox. It was fascinating to see the different tones of the coverage and the responses from around the world. At home though, social media posts, texts and emails told me how deeply Trump’s win disappointed many, but not all, in the Jewish community. (Initial reports are that 25% of Jewish voters cast their ballot for Donald Trump.)
People wrote, “How do I tell my kids that a bully won?”; “Where is the light in this darkness?”; “We elected hate.” Many churches and synagogues held impromptu healing services for those feeling broken. Countless letters were immediately penned by colleagues bemoaning the election. One wrote about, “the despair like never before.”
And yet the sun rose anew today.
In the months leading up to the election, I focused attention Shabbat mornings on the Prayer for Country:
Our God and God of our ancestors: We ask Your blessings for our country- for its government, for its leaders and advisors, and for all who exercise just and rightful authority. Teach them insights from Your Torah, that they may administer all affairs of state fairly, that peace and security, happiness and prosperity, justice and freedom may forever abide in our midst.
Creator of all flesh, bless all the inhabitants of our country with Your spirit. May citizens of all races and creeds forge a common bond in true harmony, to banish hatred and bigotry, and to safeguard the ideals and free institutions that are the pride and glory of our country.
May this land, under Your providence, be an influence for good throughout the world, uniting all people in peace and freedom- helping them to fulfill the vision of Your prophet: “Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”
And let us say, Amen.
I repeatedly spoke of finding candidates, from President to County Council members, who moved us towards these values. And many rolled up their sleeves to phone bank, canvas neighborhoods, donate money and volunteer at polling locations. At Beth El, people supported Clinton, Stein, Johnson and Trump as their preferred candidate.
But today, people have been asking me ‘what do we do now?’
The vision I laid out for Beth El over the past year and a half is more important now than ever. In our own community, we must energetically:
- strengthen our ties with other houses of worship – Jewish, Christian, Muslim and others
- build stronger bridges with other ethnic communities – African American, Hispanic and others and
- think more strategically about our robust Tikkun Olam efforts
To get involved with Beth El’s efforts, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The sun will rise again tomorrow and each day after so we must roll up our sleeves anew. We must ask for God’s blessing “for our country- for its government, for its leaders and advisors, and for all who exercise just and rightful authority. ” Simultaneously, we must work to bring those blessings to reality.