Thoughts after the Election

Dear Shaarei Tikvah family,

Today has been a day of mixed emotions. Some are experiencing jubilation, while others are filled with anxiety, confusion, and deep sadness. It has been an incredibly trying time for our nation. The results from the election have ended an incredibly tense and at times nauseating campaign season, filled with vitriol and an overwhelming sense that America has been ripped apart with two distinct and conflicting narratives. The shock of the results leaves many with a sense of hopelessness, searching for meaning in a country that may now seem different, even unrecognizable.

Donald Trump’s victory raises an awareness of just how many people want radical change for our country, and a different path forward. We don’t know exactly what that path will be, and right now it seems obscure.

However, as a nation we must remain hopeful that America will not sway from its promise to all citizens- that regardless of race, religion, gender, and sexual orientation, all are seen as equal and given the chance to dream and achieve our goals.

As Jews, we are very aware of this incredible gift. We hold as sacred the belief that we are all created in God’s image, as we are commanded to love our neighbor as ourselves. We live this out by striving to listen compassionately, not only to those with whom we agree but also with those with whom we fervently disagree.

This election offered the possibility that a Clinton victory would lead our country to breaking a glass ceiling for women and advancing the rights of Americans. As Secretary Clinton said this morning, that glass ceiling has not been broken today but it will hopefully be broken in the near future. As Americans who care about women’s rights, we must continue to give that message to our daughters and sons as they navigate gender roles, equality, and justice in America today and in the future.

Whether the result of the election was a source for joy or of grief and worry, tomorrow we must all begin our work towards achieving our dream for a better future. We are reminded of the teaching from Pirkei Avot, Teachings of our Sages, “Lo aleicha hamlacha ligmor…” “Do not feel like you need to complete the task, but you must nevertheless partake in working towards its completion.” Today the task may seem so great. However, none of us have a choice in the matter. We are all called to action.

Like Abram in this week’s parashah, Lech Lecha, we begin a new journey in light of this outcome. It is the journey towards the Promised land that our forbearers gave their lives to achieve, and yet, like Abram, that land is unknown. God says to Abram, “Lech Lecha…el haaretz asher areka,” Go forth…to the land that I will show you.” Abram is told that during that journey he will be confronted by those who wish to bless him as well as curse him. (Gen. 12:1) However, ultimately, all the families of the earth will be blessed through him.

We now have before us the incredible task of coming together as a nation to learn how we can be a blessing to one another- no matter who we voted for. That takes active listening, incredible patience, and a strong resolve to achieve greatness together. This is the moment to think about what our collective journey means to each of us individually and to think about how we can play a role in traveling that journey with others.

I feel blessed and hopeful to be part of Shaarei Tikvah’s community during this time of uncertainty. Here, we can work together to build a shared vision of where we are going, even if it doesn’t happen overnight. Yet, strengthened by one another, we can feel the incredible power of hope. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel taught, “Hope is a conviction, rooted in trust…an ability to soar above the darkness that overshadows the divine.” Let us trust in one another during these dark days ahead. Now is the time to invest in the future we would like to see.

B’shalom uv’tzedek
With prayer for peace and justice,

Rabbi Adam
rabbi@shaareitikvah.org

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