Article II Section 1 Clause 8

usc-poll

Mr. Wadleigh was my high school government teacher.  I loved his class, his enthusiasm for the mechanisms of government and his conviction that citizen activism was the most powerful lever in our system.  I recall Mr. Wadleigh dressing up in Colonial costume just to bring the lectures alive.

These ideals were reinforced for me by watching my mom become engaged in the democratic process with our congressman, Representative Tom Lantos.  As a teenager, Congressman Lantos had survived Nazi forced labor camps in his native Hungary and was ultimately saved by Raoul Wallenberg.  Lantos’ life and activism were inspirations for me.

As I earned a degree in Political Science years later, my understanding of the nuances of our government system deepened as did my appreciation for the dedication of individuals who were dismissively called ‘bureaucrats.’  To me, our government and the people working in it were the instruments of bringing our national values into reality.  Though often imprecise, our trajectory towards inclusion, aiding those in need, protecting minority citizens and opinions, caring for our infrastructure, expanding our knowledge and defending the homeland always seemed like the clear goals of our nation.  Debating differences on policies was the crucible of our system. It helped define terms, clarify ideas and agendas and strengthened decisions.

Today, President Trump swore “to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States” as he assumed our highest office.  My hope is that President Trump continue our trajectory towards inclusion but I continue to believe Mr. Wadleigh’s lessons.

Tomorrow thousands will meet in downtown Washington, D.C. and embrace Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel’s words, “When I marched… I felt my feet were praying.” Others will gather in synagogues and offer prayers including the Prayer for Country.

Prayer is only one part of our responsibility to our country.  Citizen activism is also essential.  Whether you are Republican, Democrat or Independent, this is not a time for complacency.  We each must renew our efforts to get involved in local causes which we are passionate about.  Whether it is through upcoming events of Tikkun Olam at Beth El (ToBE) or other avenues, pick one area to make a difference.

I have not met anyone who is indifferent about this moment… so get involved.  It is time to be an activist and inspire each other to become the crucible of democracy.

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10 comments

  1. Thank you for your thoughtful words. You have helped me calm down (the inaugural speech nearly did me in). Much appreciated. I will march tomorrow with my daughter, granddaughter (13) and many others working for equality and freedom for everyone. Hopefully it will be quieter than today’s demonstrations and will bear fruit.

  2. It is very fitting and almost prophetic that tomorrow we read Parshat Shmot introducing Moshe’s rise to leadership. He risked his life to safe a poor Israelite being mercilessly beaten. He had to flee for his life. He then meets his future wife and father-in-law and ultimately gets to the Burning Bush where he formally receives his mandate from G-d. With all of the miracles and G-d at his side the Children of Israel are never satisfied and constantly complain and challenge his leadership (Korach and followers). Through all of the battles and hardships, miracles and incidents until in Bamidbar chapter 20 Moshe is overwhelmed. His lifelong protector, friend, and sister Miriam dies and the people (Morim – meaning embittered from Maror and not teacher, don’t allow him a reasonable period of mourning and in that moment he breaks down and hits the rock. This momentary lapse results in his losing his lifelong dream and mission to reach the Promised Land.

    Today we are also embarking on a new era with a new president. Unfortunately most people do not have the wisdom to see through the rhetoric and theatrics that got him elected. We no longer have a president that air drops billions of dollars in cash at night to help Iran expand its power base in Iraq, Lebanon, and Yemen and support terrorists across the globe. A president that enables Iran to continue its pursuit of nuclear weapons in clandestine site that are not even known to the rest of the world. A president that throws Israel under the bus repeatedly and thinks that he can teach Bibi something about Radical Islamic terror. Remember that Bibi lost his brother on America’s bicentennial July 4th, 1976 in the rescue operation at Entebbe. The idea that Obama knows more than Bibi is beyond ludicrous.

    But the greatness of America lies in its Democracy and the American people have spoken. They are fed up with the swamp in Washington, DC and wanted a change. For the first time we have a president who truly supports Israel and will stand by her and help her as needed instead of being a bystander who abstains during the constant unceasing attack by the gangs of EU and the UN who have no other item on their permanent agenda other that Israel bashing.

    I strongly believe that we must give Trump a chance and watch and see what he will accomplish. I think great things lie ahead with someone who is a doer and not just a talker, someone with tangible business experience, negotiating experience, and who is not afraid to stand up to adversaries. Give him his 100 days to prove himself and show his steel. I think everyone who is short sighted will be amazed at what will happen. The campaigning period was just a show. During his acceptance speech at 3am Trump began to show that he could be “presidential”. Watch as he steps into a new role as commander in chief and starts the change that people want and need.

    Shabbat Shalom,

    Eliezer May

    1. I agree with Eliezer May. For all his flaws and lack of eloquence, our new President appears to be a great friend of Israel and the Jewish people. One of those flaws is his obvious hyper-sensitivity to criticism. We should support him, lest he construe incessant attacks from within the Jewish community as a reason to withdraw that support. I know there are some among us that would applaud such an outcome, but hopefully most of us want his friendship to Israel and Jews to continue.

  3. Thank you for your words. I will forward them to a dear friend who llves in Buenos Aires and was shocked about the inauguration today. Shabbat Shalom! Gabriela Bebchick

  4. His campaign speeches were his Mein Kampf, His speech today was his reiteration of them.He said what he said and mean’t every word. The prayer for our country should be followed by Kaddish for our country, if we cannot convince the moderate republicans to not be bullied by this tyrant.

  5. Freedom of speech is one of our fundamental rights, and President Trump has certainly exercised his repeatedly. So have dissenters. May G-d help all of us to remember to safeguard that right by according one another due respect. And whatever our position, may we not become “morim-” bitter.

  6. Life would be so much easier if G-d had his pillar of fire and cloud during the day, was performing miracles, and helping us against our enemies. And maybe he is but we just can’t see it if we don’t open our eyes and trust in him. Theodor Herzl was another prophet who witnessed anti-Semitism at the Dreyfus trial and began to devote his life to the Jewish People and establishing the State of Israel. In 1897 Herzl wrote “At Basel I created a Jewish State. In 5 years perhaps but certainly in 50 everyone will see it.” 50 Years later to the month UN declared that Israel would become a state. And Herzl worked tirelessly for the Jewish People and sacrificed his life for them dying at the young age of 44. Just like Moshe he did not see his life’s mission come to fruition. In 1903 a year before his death and in failing health he proposed some kind of interim solution of Uganda at the Jewish Congress. People walked out an even curse him to this day for his last act which reminds me of Moshe in Bamidar chapter 20 when his sister, protector, and life long friend just died. He is not even given the opportunity of a reasonable mourning period before the people complain to him and he responds with his famous line that I quoted earlier about Morim and for a fleeting moment he breaks down, strikes the rock twice, and is deprived of his life goal of entering the Promised Land. In spite of all of the persecution across EU and Russia, no one listened to Herzl or gave him a chance. And who knows if he was right and Uganda or any country that opened their borders to Jews trying to flee for their lives during the Holocaust might have saved thousands or even hundreds of thousands of Jews. We will never know because we never gave him a chance and all of those Jewish souls perished. Let your voices be heard but don’t close your eyes and your mind. I believe that this is part of a much larger plan and we must wait and see. The rhetoric is just that. The world is in serious trouble with the spread of Radical Islam, Iran’s support of terror, proxy wars in Iraq, Lebanon, and Yemen. Israel has not gotten sufficient support as countries “democratically” voice their anti-Semitism and Israel is the only permanent agenda item at the UN. The world has also transformed and people have not adapted their laws and thinking as radical Islamic terrorist weaponize the Geneva Convention deploying weapons in hospitals, mosques, school yards, and densely populated areas where they can fire at you but you cannot fight back or harm human shields. Radical Islam transforms itself far faster than society is able to comprehend and respond. The situation is serious and must not be ignored. Please respect each other and trust in G-d.

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