This Erev Shabbat, July 29, 2016, almost 24 Tamuz 5776, I am comfortably situated in my dorm room at Smith College, awaiting the start of the Western Wind Workshop. For the next 8 days, I will be immersed in singing of all kinds, from the Middle Ages to the most contemporary. I found my way to the Western Wind via my passion for Jewish choral music. My earliest synagogue memories revolve around the glorious Shabbat repertoire that was part of the Friday night service at Beth El Congregation in Akron, Ohio. Yes, that is exactly the same Akron, Ohio that is the home of the King, LeBron James.
Home has been on my mind a lot during these very hot days of July – and when I think of home there are multiple places that fit that description. Akron, Cleveland, northeast Ohio, New York City, Jerusalem – all of these places are home. The Great State of Ohio, birthplace of 7 Presidents, is a source of great pride for me. The United States of America is also a source of great pride for me – but of course, not the United States that is described by Donald Trump. Those of us who grew up under the cloud of a civic inferiority complex – Cleveland was once described as “The Mistake on the Lake,” were beyond overjoyed when LeBron and our Cavaliers made our dreams come true in June. I know that I am not alone among the “children of northeast Ohio” who are beyond dismayed that Donald Trump was nominated on our turf. Ambivalent Voters, please know that many a quiet Republican views this as their Mistake on the Lake. For the sake of our democracy, please see this Trump candidacy as a massive democratic mistake.
This week, the Democrats had their party in the City of Brotherly Love, and what a different tone was set. At the end of the 4 days, the message that came forward from Hillary Clinton and the Dems was one of Hope. Just as Ambassador Dermer ended his address to the Cleveland Federation last week on a note of hope, so did Hillary Clinton. The dovetailing between the messages coming from my Homeland and my Country feel good on this very hot Shabbat in the northeast.
I have been a “political junkie” since I was a young girl – I distinctly remember sitting on the floor in the den in our home on Winston Rd., watching the two parties’ conventions on our family TV. 1968 was a turbulent year and this 10 year old girl felt the earthquakes of all 3 political assassinations. I remember singing a song lamenting Hubert Humphrey’s loss to Richard Nixon on the day after the 1968 Presidential election. I was an avid supporter of Scoop Jackson in 1976 and defiantly voted for John Anderson in 1980. In 1984, during a time of transition in my life I worked on the historic Mondale/Ferraro campaign in Cleveland and in 1988, dated the father of my children during the days of the Dukakis campaign. In 1992 I rejoiced that “my generation” was taking over the leadership of the country and then joined in the collective groan when the President and his intern became the news of the day. During the terror-filled years of the first part of the 21st century I trusted the Republicans more than the Democrats to keep me safe. But that was then. This is now. And make no mistake, Donald Trump is a demagogue of the first degree. Any Jew who fails to see that is bind to the simple truth.
I missed my mother Arlene and my Grandmother Dorothy last night as Hillary accepted the nomination. Both of them were feminists in their unique way; my grandmother by economic necessity, my mother by her courage, intuition and fine people skills. How they would have delighted in the nomination of Hillary Clinton last night; how concerned they would be to see a man, such as Donald Trump be her competition. As for my father Merle, while he was a staunch Republican, when I worked on the Mondale/Ferraro campaign, he crossed party lines to support me in 1984. There is no doubt in my mind that he would also be one of the many who are going to, despite whatever reservations they have, vote for Hillary Clinton. As far as the celebration that happened in downtown Cleveland last June when LeBron made the dream come true, I trust that my Matriarchs and Patriarchs enjoyed the festivities from Above. And may the One Above, protect us all in these rocky political days ahead.