Rabbis Without Borders
Rabbis Without Borders is a dynamic forum for exploring contemporary issues in the Jewish world and beyond. Written by rabbis of different denominations, viewpoints, and parts of the country, Rabbis Without Borders is a project of Clal – The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership.
Dear Friends, Neighbors, Colleagues and All Strangers in the Midst:
I (admittedly and perhaps happily) live in a liberal bubble, and though we liberals have a lot of work ahead of us, I don’t believe our reach will go as far as yours to make this nation great once again.
I write to you today because, well, you and I may not have always agreed on the big issues nor on the means to accomplish mutual goals. However, I truly believe, from the bottom of my heart, that most of you, like most of us, want the best for this country; we just may see different ways to accomplish these goals. (Maybe we shouldn’t even be talking about ‘you’ versus ‘us’. Maybe beginning today it becomes a ‘we’.)
As Americans, we strive for a safe and welcoming place that allows all to survive and thrive in this ever-changing world of ours. As is referenced in our Constitution, we aim to establish justice, to ensure domestic peace, to defend and protect our citizens and our country, to promote the general welfare and to secure the blessings of freedom for ourselves and for others.
We can no longer see ourselves as Democrats, Republicans, Independents; rather, we must see ourselves as citizens of a country in need of Tikkun, in need of repair. The only way for us to come out from the bottom of this dangerous pit is to work together, in partnership and with mutual respect, to find a better way. And I am certain that we can find a better way.
For those who vote Republican, I beg of you – be BRAVE, and encourage your politicians to be brave as well. I trust and respect you, and so I shout from the rooftops – tell the Republican leadership that you will support them BECAUSE they stand up for what is right and what is true; they will listen to you, not to me.
It is easy to quote from each of these great former presidents of our nation, two of whom I voted for and two of whom I did not, but I can find within each man a deep love and respect for this country and our people.
President George H. W. Bush: “I will keep America moving forward, always forward, for a better America, for an endless enduring dream and a Thousand Points of Light. This is my mission, and I will complete it.”
Me: Let us join in this vision to continue to strive for a better America, and let us each feel compelled to do the work and make this our personal mission.
President Bill Clinton: “When times are tough, constant conflict may be good politics but in the real world, cooperation works better. After all, nobody’s right all the time, and a broken clock is right twice a day.”
Me: May we all embrace the idea of cooperation and collaboration, and may we respect that we all have good ideas, and somewhere in the middle is a wonderful solution.
President George W. Bush: “America is a Nation with a mission – and that mission comes from our most basic beliefs. We have no desire to dominate, no ambitions of empire. Our aim is a democratic peace – a peace founded upon the dignity and rights of every man and woman.”
Me: In Hebrew, the word is shalom, shleimut, wholeness, and peace. May we all strive for a peace based on the rights of each of us.
President Barak Obama: “Keep believing. Keep marching. Keep building. Keep raising your voice. Every generation has the opportunity to remake the world….”
Me: The opportunity, the demand for us to fix our world falls on each of our shoulders, and there is an urgency to act now.
In great Jewish tradition, big questions often demand discussion and compromise. Any doorway we enter in a Jewish home has a mezuzah placed on a slant, because two great rabbis could not agree on whether we should place a mezuzah vertically or horizontally, and so it is slanted, respectful of both opinions.
Friends, colleagues, loved ones – let us all, regardless of our political leanings, find a way to come together, to embrace the core foundations of this great nation, and work to make this country that we love the country it is meant to be. We must be brave. We must be smart. We must be respectful. We must be kind. And we will succeed.