Before heading west to Cleveland later today, I have numerous little chores to do in preparation for the grand American secular/sacred holiday, Thanksgiving. Yet, having been silent on my blog since before the election due to a computer crash, I need to give my fingers some time to fly over the keyboard. As we know, Thanksgiving is rooted in Sukkot, demonstrating again how interconnected my deepest connections are. The Sacred Rights, Sacred Song Project is similarly deeply rooted in both my overt Patriotism and love of democracy and my explicit Zionism and love of Judaism. In the wake of the US Election and in the shadow of a haredi-controlled narrow coalition in the Knesset, it is a bit difficult to feel great about both my Home and my Homeland. I trust by sharing my mild trepidations, I will begin to feel better. This is the healing power of expression, which is protected by our First Amendment, Mr. Trump.
Look at the irony of this morning’s “breaking news” from CNN – “He Won’t Lock Her Up” – of course referring to President-Elect Trump’s YouTube statement that he is not going to pursue charges against Hillary Clinton. Well, that’s good news, isn’t it? Sad but true, that same headline could apply to a story about Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovich, the head of The Western Wall Heritage Foundation, and Anat Hoffman, the leader of The Women of the Wall. As we saw almost two weeks ago, when Anat is flanked by Rabbis Steve Wernick, Rick Jacobs, Daniel Freelander, Rob Nosanchuk and leaders from The Jewish Agency for Israel, Rabbi Rabinovich seems to respect Freedom of Religious Expression, protected by the 2013 decision that granted to WOW “Sobel Rights”. This is Zionist political power changing the facts on the grounds in matters of “spiritual civil rights,” which is enshrined in Israel’s Declaration of Independence and supported by Israeli court decisions, Mr. Netanyahu and Rabbi Rabinovich.
I have been looking for news stories from Israel about the Supreme Court’s command to the Israeli Government to explain its utter failure to begin implementation of The Great Kotel Compromise Agreement. November 17 has come and gone – all I have seen is that the Prime Minister continues to ask World Jewry to be “patient and tolerant” as he quietly persuades his haredi coalition partners that Jews Other than Orthodox are entitled to respect and legitimacy too. Netanyahu has to persuade the ultra-Orthodox political establishment to change the way these patriarchal traditionalists see the World. Why should the Jewish People think the Prime Minister has some trick up his sleeve now that he did not have before? Just like President-Elect Donald Trump is going to now have to try to convince some of the more “deplorable” amongst his supporters that he cannot “lock her up”, Netanyahu has to persuade those whose views are locked in time that Other Ways of being Jewish are not illegal anymore. Good luck to both the President-Elect and the Prime Minister.
And then there is Jared Kushner, the President-Elect’s Son-In-Law, the Prince-Elect of the United States of America. Am I suppose to be OK with Steve Bannon in the White House because Jared and Ivanka went to the Rebbe’s grave before the Election? And this is the grandson of Holocaust survivors? Please. Someone offer Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump some simple lessons in Jewish History, ASAP. The offense to my sense of Democracy here in the US is similar to the way I felt in July 2010/Rosh Hodesh Av 5770 when I found myself in the midst of spiritual civil disobedience with WOW. Only here, in the US, the People (but not a majority of voters, of course) elected Mr. Trump and his Entourage. No one elected Rabbi Rabinovich, and the Status Quo he represents, King of the Jews. No, as We sing in the Sacred Rights, Sacred Song Sh’ma Israel,
“Who decides how I’m a Jew? Who dictates what I have to do? To claim my essence, to bond with my Tribe? In a Democracy more than one voice should decide.”
Late this afternoon, we will pick up Hayato, the son of a Jewish man and a Japanese woman, from “Seekers”, the supplementary program of the Jewish Renewal community “Romemu.” We will begin our drive west, crossing the George Washington Bridge, spending the night deep in the heart of Pennsylvania Trump country. We will get home on Wednesday in time to pick up our prepared turkey from my favorite kosher caterer in Cleveland. This melange represents the best of America, Mr. Trump. And on Thursday, just like so many families around the US, even in these dark days of a democratic demagogue, we will give thanks for the blessings of living the US of A in 2016. And as Jews, we will offer blessings for the health and well being of not just our Home, but our Homeland, as the parade of time marches on. Speaking of parades, I do hope that my granddaughters who live in Jerusalem will be able to participate in one of our great American rituals – watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Hag Turkey Sameach! And let’s also celebrate the fact that two very courageous women, Hillary and Anat, no longer need to worry about being, “locked up.” Amen.