The Fourth Isn’t Even on the Fourth

Patriotism Flagging

I just read David Brook’s column in the NYT reflecting on the state of our union on this fourth weekend. He calls it the “National Humiliation We Need”. It resonated with me in ways that are deeply troubling.

We have failed. Not maybe you and not maybe me but collectively we have shown the world and ourselves how meager our collective spirit is. In the face of a global health crisis we could not find the will to unite in common purpose with the goal of saving lives. I am not going to assign individual blame, but history certainly will. I am just sad that no one could galvanize us and offer a vision of hope and faith and a way out of this pit we are falling deeper and deeper into, uniting us with their words and their deeds. I am just sad that no voice could lift us up to see above the narrow horizon of political expediency. What I would have given for an “Ask not what your country can do for you …”. Where were our national dreamers who believed that as Americans “we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope”?

I don’t know where the Kennedys and Kings among us are. I am embarrassed (I’ll come to anger – don’t worry). I always thought we were a nation who believed in science and reason. Whose taglines were “Imagination at Work”, or “Better Living Through Chemistry”? It was GE and Dupont. There was a time when at least looking backwards that our country believed in science. There was a time at least looking backward that the promise of America seemed to soar and inspire and motivate. There was a time when we thought we could solve our problems by working together, arguing together, standing together. We believed in each other.

What do we believe in now? Do we believe that we have the national will to get this disease under control? Do we believe that we have the political mechanism and spiritual fortitude to resolve this virus of endemic racism that lives beneath the surface of our reality and can’t be sprayed away with a 60% solution of alcohol? We can’t let this American Dream slip away. We can’t let Netflix or Hulu or Amazon Prime lull us into believing that if we sit back and watch Hamilton on Disney Plus we will have celebrated the fourth.

The only celebration worthy of the “rockets red glare” is one that motivates us to action. This fourth we know we can’t rely on Washington. This fourth we know the power belongs to the people. This fourth we know it has to begin again with us. Vote. Donate. Sign Petitions. Protest. Call your Representatives. Wear a Mask of course. This fourth we know we only have each other.

It is On Us

I am so saddened by what is happening to our country. I am so afraid of the maniac in the White House who is capable of doing anything to guarantee his re-election. OMG that photo op at the Episcopal Church while Americans are being tear gassed on the other side of the park. And the Bible? Really folks: What was he trying to say? And to whom? It just adds to my fears about his loyal followers and what could come next.

I watch the videos of George Floyd’s murder. What were the other officers standing around thinking? Why didn’t they stop it? I am feeling paralyzed as to what to do. I know where I should be – out on the street, offering my body as a vote in the national campaign for racial justice and reform. I am feeling old and vulnerable. I am impressed by how young the protestors are and like the grandfather that I am, I am happy to see that many of them are wearing masks. At least on TV, there are many ethnicities and races represented in the marches and protest and that gives me hope and faith.

Because this is not a black fight. This is not just the concern of communities of color. This is all of our struggle if we are going to transmit an America worthy of its name and promise to the next generation. This is on all of us no matter what shade of brown, beige, black, tan, white we are.

But I know I really can’t feel their anger. I can emotionally empathize, and I can intellectually understand but my gut doesn’t have the fear and the suspicion built into it because of the color of my skin. I don’t have the eyes on me suspicious of the way I walk or the sweatshirt I wear or the physicality of my body or the crime of being black by driving or black in the wrong neighborhood or black in the park. I am so keenly aware of my white privilege.

If this is on me then the question is what can I do to live my words and my values. Not everyone can do everything. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschels’ famous words: “Some are guilty, all are responsible” are kind of my personal contemporary commandment. I guess I am saying – don’t just sit and watch all this unfold on TV making judgements and weighing who is right and who is wrong. Don’t just focus on the small minority who are looting and turning to violence. Those who are protesting peacefully are fulfilling America’s promise. And especially because we are not on the street, it is time to find an action that will support a just and free tomorrow for all the colors of the rainbow.

Want to read more? Rabbi Judith Schindler wrote a great piece on what you and I can do. It is my next go to:  https://www.judyschindler.com/if-you-are-white-and-asking-what-can-i-do/

It is on us.

There is a Painting

There’s a painting in our office in the new apartment we are still finishing in the high rise building near the mall in the city where we rented our first apartment when we came here what now feels like a long time ago and it was. It is a gaggle of men studying. I started to say a group of Rabbis but why do I assume only Rabbis study. I guess you could ask why only men but that’s a different discussion. They sit pretty close to each other, breathing disagreements and questions on each other’s faces. Things we notice now.

I replaced the glass and the matt after the glass cracked in our move. It’s been with us ever since I was a student Rabbi in Vicksburg, Mississippi in 1965-66, a gift from the congregation after my one-year internship with them. They were incredibly warm, gracious and proud Jews of the South and put up with this naïve and inexperienced young Yankee from Boston. The congregation had been founded officially in 1865. But Jews have been living in Vicksburg for almost 200 years.

 It is a Zvi Raphaeli Litho. (Whatever that adds to this story. But in Jewish tradition it is imperative to quote your sources and name your teachers.) And they teach, these lines of color, strokes from a paint brush of the artist’s creativity. They teach about time and Torah; they teach about nostalgia and memory; they teach about an eternal quest to make sense of this life we have been gifted. One man is sleeping, maybe just a quick nap. Or maybe it is the Rabbi and they learn more from his silence than his words. I know about silence. Sometimes it is distant and cold, angry and bitter. Sometimes it is reflective and soft, harmonized compassion. Sometimes it is wise. I try to remember that simply refraining from speech opens up the moment to unforeseen potential. Speech is populated with words I already knew; silence celebrates that there is more to learn from each other.

My men are not silent. They are arguing about tomorrow. What will be its shape and how will we rise from this table piled with ancient tomes?  I would recommend to them The NYTimes article “No One Knows What’s Going To Happen” (Mark Lilla) as a worthwhile antidote to the hints they scour in the texts before them. In a way it is an echo of what happens when you are willing to live with the silence. Everything we say about tomorrow is a guess. Some guesses are more educated than others, but our predictions depend on so many variables including will my scholars in the portrait wear a mask when they leave the House of Study. Including will my scholars pray with their deeds and not just their words.

There is a very hard lesson to be internalized here. “Human beings want to feel they are on a power walk into the future, when in fact we are always just tapping our canes on the pavement in the fog. A dose of humility would do us good in the present moment. It might also help reconcile us to the radical uncertainty in which we are always living.” (NYT: Lilla. 5/24)

Scary this uncertainty. But if we are honest, we were never in control. We just lived as if we were. It was way more comfortable and settling. This stuff is tough but you all know that and didn’t have to read this far to hear me say it. But back to my scholars. I think what got them through is they had each other. If nothing else that was a constant worthy of emulating.

My Dark Side

This is my dark side speaking. I am not even sure that I want to give it voice. Better it should live in my imagination or nightmares; better it should live in my silent fear. I come to this naturally. We say in Hebrew: Al Tiftach Peh LiSatan – Do not open your mouth to Satan. Or put a little less esoterically. If you don’t verbalize it won’t become real. (Or something like that.)

But it has or it is becoming. We are ready to accept three thousand people dying a day from the virus in the US alone. We are ready to accept that this social distancing is the new norm. We are ready to accept that the more we open our society without enough testing, without a viable treatment, without a vaccine or immunity, we will push the death rate higher and higher. And our vulnerable will die; our seniors will die; our disenfranchised will be at higher risks; our care givers and first responders, our doctors and nurses will be put in more and more danger. It’s a mess.

If I were writing science fiction, I would give the virus “intention”. The earth would have a sense of consciousness, and this would be a warning/punishment/cleansing/teaching that we have gone too far and this beautiful blue globe will not keep spinning if we do not start to take care of it. In shutting us down; the virus has brought clear waters to the canals of Venice. A lesson.

Or if I were writing theology of a reward and punishment style, I would give the virus a Creator. And there would be prophets running around preaching and prophesying of an Apocalypse. Everyone is saying: It is the end of the world as we know it.  Where is Jonah when we need him?

If I were writing alternative history, I would tell my readers that the virus has purpose. It will make our society leaner and younger. The burden of a growing, aging, infirm population will be eradicated. And we will breathe again – we the immune; we with the antibodies; we with the new identity cards that have a CF embedded in gold. CF for Covid Free. We will go out again and the new ID with CF will get you into bars and arenas, theaters and malls, restaurants and house of worship and study.

Or we will just descend into sporadic and seasonal chaos. Ever read “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy? It is a post-apocalyptic novel of a father and son navigating the new reality some unknown disaster created. I actually gave a sermon based on it, seeing the father as Abraham and the son as Isaac and the road they navigated as a test of faith, love and ingenuity.

I told you my dark side was speaking. “WASHINGTON, D.C. – Toilet paper isn’t the only commodity in short supply during the COVID-19 pandemic. Personal safety concerns triggered by the pandemic have made nationwide gun sales explode. Many gun dealers in Northeast Ohio say business is so busy they’ve had trouble maintaining inventory.” (Cleveland.com) And today Palm Beach County opens in Phase One. Restaurants and Retail at 25%. No nails done – a big topic in my house and no haircuts yet.

Progress but so much unknown. Progress but so much yet to be determined. Progress but so many lessons yet to be learned. Certainly, we will be a masked society. Certainly at least for a while we will keep our distance from each other. Certainly, we will think twice about things that used to be routine. Like touching a door handle or shaking hands – although I sort of like the Namaste fold – it is respectful and humbling which in these times is a good thing. I am getting used to some of the restrictions but that’s a different post. This one is staying dark.

420

We should be in Israel today. Somewhere in the Galilee either on a boat sailing across Lake Kineret or eating St. Peter’s Fish in a restaurant on the shore. Instead, like many of us, I don’t even know what day it is. On Monday, one of my grandchildren texted me it was National Weed Day. So, given that I have so much to fill up my days, I decided to look it up. Is April 20th really National Weed Day and if so, how did it get that way?

According to CNN, quoting as a source, the curator of the Marijuana Museum in Oakland, CA, there are several different interpretations of its origins. The one they like the best uses the numerical equivalent of the date 4/20. It seems that a group of high school students at San Rafael High School in Marin County used to meet at 4:20 after school under the statue of Louis Pasteur to get high every day. It was a perfect time. School was over for the day and their parents weren’t home yet. The time became a code for them, and it slowly spread across California becoming eventually the number of the California Senate Bill that established the Medical Marijuana program in the state. Who knew and this is facetious but how come my grandchild did?

That night as the sun set it was Yom HaShoah – Holocaust Remembrance Day. If we were in Israel, the plans were that like many in Israel, we would wait for the siren and get off the bus, standing quietly, reflectively, inwardly allowing the sound to pierce our sadness as we remembered 6 million. How efficient the Nazi killing machine and how impotent or callous the world to stop it. But we’re not. We are home like you, sheltered in place, washing our hands, concerned about microbes we cannot see and wondering where we go from here and what tomorrow will look like.

Well tomorrow was Earth Day (which is today), the 50th anniversary. 4/22. I know I am having a hard time with it all. I also know that I am relatively doing fine with it all. (not Earth Day – the isolation – the quarantine – the social distancing). Whatever we call it, I am blessed to be healthy; I am grateful to have more than I need; I am fortunate (too weak a word here) to be on this journey with Eileen; I am alternatively also going crazy and wondering what’s next and what time the 6:30 news is.

On the Earth Day website they offer 30 “eco-friendly” activities which they call “isolutions”. https://www.earthday.org/resolutions-isolutions-for-coronavirus-self-isolation/ They are good for the earth and good for us. Speaking of good for us. One of the questions that demand our attention is what this experience is teaching us. I am going to broadly (very) paraphrase an OpEd piece in the NY Times on Easter. It talked about God in this pandemic. The insight that resonated with me was that God is in the lessons we take from this. The lessons can be personal (I need to work on my alone time); the lessons can be global (the world is so much smaller than we ever conceived humbled by a virus we cannot even see and which knows no boundaries or borders.) The lessons can be political. Oh do we need a leader with vision and integrity. One whom we can believe again. One whom we can trust to care about the least among us.

I guess that’s why I am reading “The Splendid and the Vile.” by Erik Larson. It’s about Winston Churchill and London during the Blitz. It is a story of courage and leadership.

It is a story we need right now.

This Night Is Different

(A note of explanation: A friend called and said, “I will be alone Seder night. I am not comfortable with zoom – can you help me find a way to celebrate.” This is what came up …. A little long for my regular posts …. But here for you to use as you see fit ……

This night is different. Locked down; socially distant; isolated and feeling fearful of the next news cycle; wondering will the “plague” pass over my house and the homes of my loved ones. This night is different. It is hard to think of Seder meaning order when so much that is happening around us seems so random.

This night is different. The candles we light are festive reminders of faith and hope. I hear my mother blessing with her lips the Hebrew formula of praise and pleading with her heart the motto of her depression: This too shall pass. The flickering flames fight for survival. We need them to win; we need them to brighten the darkness of despair; to lift the veil so that we can see there is a way up and out of this vast and deep valley of desolation.

Thank God for wine. Whether red or white or any color in-between, pretend you are a master wine connoisseur, and let it linger in your mouth. Taste the earth, musky and full or dry and acid. There is a miracle on your tongue, the process from seed to bottle. It is worthy of blessing.

This night we wash. Hands in water in a bowl. In my house I pour from a pitcher and as a blonde and blue-eyed acolyte robed in white and red in a soaring cathedral, I offer my “priest” (the youngest child) the purity of being cleansed. But forget my silly fantasy. Add some soap to defeat the virus. Forget the bowl and pitcher. Wash well and as you lather sing an early Dayenu.

Parsley, peas and peapods, anything that grows green. It is Spring after all. And that means hope dipped in salt water. And that means we will get through this. And that means: Next year in Jerusalem, Paris or even Rome. That means next year in a crowded room, shoulder to shoulder, hot and sweaty, my good clothes itchy against my skin. Next year back too long and boring and when will we eat.

I guess this is turning out to be a different Haggadah or more precisely a different Seder. I don’t think I’ll get to all 14 steps and who has the patience for this anyway. It’s really all about the Matzah and the story that it tells. Rabbi Gamliel is quoted in the Haggadah as saying: “Anyone who has not said the following three things on Pesach has not fulfilled their obligation: the Passover sacrifice, matzah and maror.”  So I’m saying them.

Pesach – in ancient times the sacrifice and aroma of roasting lamb. How much has to be sacrificed in order to preserve the miracle of freedom. The willingness to believe that we can be redeemed. That there is a force in the universe we can tap into to light our way and walk the murky path through a sea of reeds to the other side.

Matzah – break it now. Break it into two uneven pieces. (It would be a miracle if it split evenly.) The larger piece gets hidden. Maybe in the folds of your napkin; maybe in the margins of the book; maybe under a pillow; maybe behind a piece of furniture – hidden for a different generation to find. Because the story we tell of Egypt, slavery and the road to redemption is not just the story of us; it is the story of every generation; it is the story of them. I know we call it the bread of affliction but have you ever had matzah slathered with whipped butter and strawberry jam?

Maror – The Bitter herb. How much more do I need to say. It isn’t about denying the bitterness that comes with living. It isn’t about negating how hard it was to be a slave to Pharaoh. It is about recognizing the bitterness and finding a way to make it somewhat sweeter – like dipping the horseradish root into that mixture of apples or dates and nuts or apricots and wine and cinnamon or cardamom to make it bearable. So do you know what lettuce wraps look like in a restaurant: wrap your bitterness with the sweetness of family, friends, love, affection even if you have to do it from memory. Eat the Maror any way that works for you. But I would do it like Hillel used to, sandwiched between two pieces of Matzah, savoring with every bite the sweet and sugary stuff we call LIFE.

OMG! I almost forgot. Have you been sipping the wine? I hope so. The Seder calls for four glasses – each has its own promise. And with each sip we bless the story of liberation that we tell. It is a retelling of ancient truths that we are in this together. That we will find a way out of this together. That we do not tell this story just for us. We tell it to change the world connecting love and loss with life and liberty.

The Haggadah ends with a song about a parent and a goat. In one of my favorite poems, Nathan Alterman brings the song to life as his words help me conclude my Passover story. We are all clinging to the edges of the pages. We are living in the margins. But the strength of Passover is the promise of an open door and a world where plagues are drops of wine and each of us is living unafraid singing about tomorrow.


The Kid of the Haggadah

There in the market place, bleating among the billy goats and nannies,
Wagging his thin little tail—as thin as my finger—
Stood the Kid—downcast, outcast, the leavings of a poor man’s house,
Put up for sale without a bell, without even a ribbon, for just a couple of cents. 

Not a single soul in the market paid him any attention,
For no one knew—not even the goldsmith, the sheep-shearer—
That this lonesome little Kid would enter the Haggadah
And his tale of woe become a mighty song. 

But Daddy’s face lit up,
He walked over to pat the Kid’s forehead—and bought him.
And so began one of those songs
That people will sing for all history. 

The Kid licked Daddy’s hand,
Nuzzled him with his wet little nose;
And this, my brother, will make the first verse of the song:
“One only Kid, one only Kid, that my father bought for two zuzim.” 

It was a spring day, and the breezes danced;
Young girls winked and giggled, flashed their eyes;
While Daddy and the Kid walked into the Haggadah
To stand there together—small nose in large hand, large hand on small nose. 

To find in the Haggadah—
So full already of miracles and marvels—
A peaceful place on the last page,
Where they can hug each other and cling to the edge of the story. 

And this very Haggadah whispers,
“Join us…you’re welcome here … you belong,
Among my pages full of smoke and blood,
Among the great and ancient tales I tell.” 

So I know the sea was not split in vain,
Deserts not crossed in vain—
If at the end of the story stand Daddy and the Kid
Looking forward and knowing their turn will come. 

Happy Passover!!

It is Time

It’s time to write a book. Or at least it’s time to put my files in order. Or maybe buy that scanner and get rid of all that paper. Or start an online course or find a good book but of course I am doing none of it. All I tend to do is run down my battery on my laptop.

Although I did make a “Mellow” playlist this morning on Spotify. Kudos (there is probably a more “woke” word than that) to Lab/Shul for their link to a Healing Playlist. https://open.spotify.com/playlist/6ZLvq2LbdOxDn6MMsBFA1B

It probably isn’t for everyone, but it felt good to at least do something. (PS – it is possible the link won’t work unless you have Spotify — above my pay grade.)

I don’t know about you, but I feel somewhat powerless. I am observing the laws of social distancing and sheltering in place. Whoever came up with these phrases did a good job knitting them into our shared language pool. I am washing my hands way more than ever before and have discovered that the creases in between my fingers are part of my hands as are the backs or tops and they all need to be scrubbed in the 2X Happy Birthday ritual. I am not making fun of any of this. I am commenting to myself how we create and develop new social norms.

What is true for me is that as isolating as all of this can be, the reality that it teaches me is that we are part of the same collective. There is an organic connection between us, and the virus is teaching us to be conscious that we are connected in many more ways than we ever thought. It is teaching us to be appreciative of the people who care for us like the medical community, like the education community, like the people who stock the shelves of our grocery stores, like the manager at Publix who greeted everyone who was in line to get into the store cheerfully, handing them an already sanitized cart.

It is making us adapt in large and small ways. Like I thought we were making chicken soup today but there was no chicken. So, I am going to try and recreate my mother’s sweet and sour cabbage borscht. (I guess the book will have to wait.) It is reminding us to be kinder It is connecting us even as it separates us. Loudly and clearly it says: this is a very small world and what happens in China happens here. And wouldn’t it be great if at the end of the day it motivated our world to work collectively and cooperatively because all borders are really artificial.

Vulnerable

She beat me to it. Not that I was asked to write for the NY Times Sunday Review, but I so resonated with Mary Pipher’s piece: “I Love the World, but I Cannot Stay”. Thinking about death and thinking about your own dying is not something we do very often. Although being in the Rabbi business I have seen a lot of end of life scenarios and shared many diverse and personal rituals of passing. They invariably remind me in some unexpected way of my own time in this realm of existence and when or how it will end.

The coronavirus has not helped. The media reports that the virus is especially lethal to our elderly and those with underlying medical conditions. No matter what my heart and spirit say – one of those is me. I read every article about how to protect yourself. I am washing my hands many more times a day. I am trying not to touch my face but even just writing these words makes my nose itch. And I want in Pipher’s words: “to die young as late as possible.” But it’s not in my control no matter how much hand sanitizer I rub into my hands.

It brings me to Purim, our holiday of the month. Esther is waiting in the wings to appear in the King’s bedroom. Mordechai is watching and observing how the virus of hatred and prejudice is spreading in the ante chambers of Haman’s mind. Ahasuerus is oblivious just wanting to keep the party going enjoying the trappings of power. And God is hinting that we better work this out amongst ourselves since HE/SHE is silent throughout the book.

And it is not quite a pandemic as we hold our breaths to see what and where the Coronavirus will do with itself and how it will infiltrate our lives as we go from supermarket to pharmacy to see if there has been a delivery of Purell. Yesterday I was in a meeting where we were planning a community gathering for a month from now and we knew out loud that the public aspect of the assembly was at risk since no one knew what the future held.

Of course, even before we had ever heard of the term Coronavirus, no one knew what the future held. Life is really about that even if we aren’t ready to admit it. Existentially every step is precarious, and every handshake exchange is more than a willingness to be open and extend good wishes of peace and harmony. Even before the virus emerged to place our finitude and fear at the center of our daily story, we transferred our own genetic material to each other with barely a touch.

The struggle for me is to find balance and act appropriately caring for myself and others. A friend of mine reminded me that in the Mussar world it is “equanimity” that we need. In Hebrew the term is “Menuchat Hanefesh” and it translates loosely as “rest for the soul” or “tranquility”. But here is the thing about the Mussar teachers: it is not a passive soul trait. It is not wait and see. It is not blind trust and leaving it all in the hands of God. It is balance. Finding your way through these corridors of confusion and living with both joy and appropriate caution. Finding a place for your anxiety and channeling it to proper safeguards. Finding the courage to be and not letting fear paralyze.

It is amazing how something so small that you cannot see with your naked eye can be such a large test for our society. The days and weeks ahead will tell us if we fail or succeed. And success is not just about a vaccine or cure. Success is government working in the interest of the people. Success is all of us caring compassionately for each other. Success is love is love is love.

IMHO 2

We came home from LA last night and turned on CNN to see if the world had changed while we were flying across the country. Cuomo was hosting a town hall conversation with Bernie Sanders from Charleston, South Carolina. We tuned in somewhere in the middle so I didn’t hear all the questions but there were enough that were good and telling and I like the way Bernie answered many of them fairly directly and unapologetically. I think that distinguishes him from lots of the other candidates. That doesn’t mean I like all of his answers or think he is “smart” to insist on using the word “socialist” in his description of himself as a democratic socialist. But you “gotta” admire his grit.

But there was one response to a question from a Jewish student that bothered me as much as some of his other answers. He was asked about his Jewish identity and what it means for him to be Jewish. I do not doubt the authenticity of his answer which was Holocaust based. He remembered growing up in a neighborhood where people had tattoos on their arms. He recounts that his father’s family was wiped out by Hitler and when “my brother and I, and our wives, went to Poland to the town he was born in. He fled terrible poverty and antisemitism. The people in town, very nice people, took us to a place where the Nazis had the Jewish people dig a grave and shot them all; 300 people in there….”

It isn’t that he was profoundly affected by the Holocaust. There is barely a Jew who consciously or unconsciously isn’t. For me, it is that Jewish identity can’t be linked to Auschwitz and death alone. I wanted to hear about values and principles that are informed by Judaism and the Jewish experience. I wanted to hear about a vision and a dream that was primed by a Jewish engine that would look forward and not backwards. I guess it’s the Rabbi thing in me.

That doesn’t mean I don’t admire him. It also doesn’t mean that I have decided to vote for him either (but I will have to make up my mind fairly soon as my mail in Florida ballot is sitting on my desk). His recent tweet about AIPAC is terribly disturbing. He writes that “The Israeli people have the right to live in peace and security. So do the Palestinian people. I remain concerned about the platform AIPAC provides for leaders who express bigotry and oppose basic Palestinian rights. For that reason, I will not attend their conference.”

Sad. Disturbing. Painful. Palestinians deserve to live in peace and security. True! Israelis deserve to live in peace and security. True! But not attending an AIPAC Conference as a leader of the Democratic party sends a terrible message. According to AIPAC leadership he has never attended an AIPAC Conference. One wonders how committed he is to a viable Israel. One wonders (and this is terrible) what he learned standing at the grave of 300 Jews in his father’s Polish town. Go to the conference Bernie.

We Need To Do More

About 200 hundred of us gathered in front of the West Palm Beach Library to protest the refusal of the senate to call witnesses in the impeachment trial of Donald J Trump. Organized by Moveon.org it was one of several hundred across the country and quickly widened to reject his acquittal. With chants of “Vote them out” and cars honking approval people held up elaborate signs and placards expressing their anger and dismay at the state of our union.

It’s been a long time since I was at a political rally. My first was at Brandeis protesting nuclear proliferation on the streets of Boston. That was a long time ago and I think it was on the second day of Sukkot and as we marched through some of the Jewish sections of town, we were yelled at for desecrating a holiday. But that’s ancient history. Nobody yelled at us last night and the pro-Trump truck they thought might be circling the block to intimidate us never showed. So, it was a genteel and civilized rally with lots of police presence who hung out with us and made sure we kept the sidewalk clear. It definitely was good to have them there.

But I felt funny being there. Not that I disagreed with any of the sentiments expressed. I yelled “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Donald Trump’s got to go” with the best of them. But I’m not a placard kind of guy. I sort of walked around the crowd observing that it seemed to me to skew older, female and white. I looked for people I know and was surprised to find some from my building. But I played it too cool. With no criticism of the organizers or participants intended I felt it and I were missing a kind of passion. If we are going to make our voices heard in November in an effective way, we are going to need to hook into an emotional component that will animate our actions. Resignation will not motivate us. We need both a candidate that can inspire us and a simple emotional laden message that will unify us.

This is what my participation taught me. We have work to do to take back the values of an honest, inclusive, just America we believe in. I’m glad I was at the rally and if it did nothing else it showed me that I need to do more. And I guess the message of this blog is: We all do. It is time to take back our country.