by Matt Goldberg, Director Jewish Community Relations Council
These past few weeks saw some truly baffling things coming out of our nation’s capital, and our faith in our elected leaders has never been lower. Every poll taken over the course of the government shutdown and run up to the debt ceiling default date indicated that the majority of Americans wanted to “throw the bums out,” replacing every single member of congress. One poll that I saw showed roughly 60 percent of Americans shared this feeling.
Two years ago, one of our parent agencies The Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) launched a campaign for civility, as they could see the writing on the wall that civil discourse was becoming overheated. In response to this development, they asked agencies and members of the Jewish community to sign on to a civility pledge, as respectful disagreements are most certainly a Jewish tradition. Here is a part of that pledge:
This pursuit (of civility) has deep roots in Torah and in our community’s traditions. Our Sages saw the fruit of arguments that were conducted l’shem shamayim, “for the sake of Heaven.” They fervently believed that great minds, engaged in earnest search and questioning, could find better and richer solutions to the problems they faced. They refrained from insisting on uniformity. They sought to preserve and thereby honor the views of the minority as well as the majority. They did so through their understanding of the great teaching of Eilu v’eilu divrei Elokim chayim, “both these words and those are the words of the living God.”
This statement would seem that it should be a guide for our elected leaders (even though we might not agree that they are of “great minds”). Watching the man-on-the-street interviews with average Americans during the government shutdown, there seemed to be a universal desire among them for their leaders to come together and govern, and there seemed to be a desire for both sides to compromise.
Our collective opinion of Congress has never been lower, primarily due to their obstructionist activities, which can’t be in the best interest of the country. Imagine a system where elected leaders come together, respect differences, and compromise on a deal both sides could live with. Seems it would better for the country and their opinion poll numbers.
Interfaith Chanukah Party
I am not quite sure that “Thanksgivingakuh” will make it to Webster’s Dictionary, especially considering the fact that Thanksgiving and Chanukah overlap only once every hundreds of years. But this happens to be one of those times, and this means that our annual Interfaith Chanukah Party is early and the perfect follow up to your turkey dinners.
Join us on Tuesday, December 3, at 7 p.m. in the JCC auditorium for our JCRC Chanukah celebration. We will have wonderful music, delicious food, candle lighting and storytelling. It is a great occasion to bring all of your family and friends of all faiths and backgrounds, as Chanukah is a celebration of religious and national freedom, as exemplified by the story of the Maccabees and their defeat of the Greek armies that tried to subjugate the Jewish people. I look forward to seeing you all there.
Space is limited. RSVP by November 27 to Paula DeWeese, email@example.com or 238-2764.