Devorah Titunik
Devorah Titunik

Preparing for Elul Reflections in 5781

It’s been a hard year in so many ways. I have spent it dealing with COVID and the isolation that came with it. I saw George Floyd murdered and some protests becoming violent. I watched as our Capitol was overrun (and some of those people wearing antisemitic t-shirts – as well as racist images like the Confederate battle flag), I saw the details of the Floyd murder during the Chauvin trial. Another Israel/Gaza war and the rising antisemitism in places where levels were already too high. We have been on a vaccine rollercoaster. Cases dropping as vaccines became widely available and the ability to lose the masks (if vaccinated) only to see a new rise in sickness and death and among much younger groups and now told we should put our masks back on.

That’s a lot to go through in a year. As Elul approaches, I’m trying to find the best way to use this time to come to terms with everything and best prepare myself for the High Holy Days.

I am not one who gets angry easily, but I am angry now. I’m angry at all the people who have refused to get vaccinated, including members of my own family. It is because of them that the hope we had about getting back to somewhat normal has plummeted back into more despair. I’m angry at all the Republican leaders who have helped spread Trump’s big lie and are also lying about the insurrection on Jan 6th. I’m angry at the levels of antisemitism I’m still seeing on social media every day and the fact that hate against us hasn’t got the kind of attention hate against other groups has. I’m angry that the media made things worse by blaming everything on Israel (even though it didn’t start the war) and barely covered the hate we were getting. I’m angry that, once again, Ilhan Omar made antisemitic statements and when asked about it on CNN claimed that Jews in Congress have used Islamophobic tropes (without providing a single example) and claimed they also hadn’t been “partners in justice” and wasn’t challenged by Jake Tapper. Those statements were again antisemitic and still, she is facing no censure in Congress. And underneath all this, I’m angry at G-d.

I am afraid in ways I never have been before. Growing up in America our democracy seemed as solid as the marble in the Capitol building. But, on January 6th I realized just how fragile it is. Yet I still see too many “leaders” in the Republican party, not only backing up Trump’s lies but rewriting the insurrection.  I am afraid for the future of this country in ways I never experienced before.

I’m a worrier. Yes, I know, I’m Jewish, it comes with the DNA. But it seems there’s been so much more to worry about in the last year. I worry about my unvaccinated family members getting COVID, I worry about the health of our democracy, I worry about the historic levels of rising antisemitism, I worry about financial survival, and I worry that with the delta variant I’ll have to go back into isolation just when I’m starting to get out after a year and a half.

How will I be able to reflect and improve myself for the High Holy Days with so much stress? I guess I will have to take it each day at a time and maybe only one issue each day. Be honest with myself about my shortcomings and search for positive ways to improve and deal with all of this. I hope it will be a meaningful Elul, for myself and everyone else who has been struggling through this past year.

About the Author
Devorah Titunik is a graphic artist and poet, and a mother of three grown children. Social justice has always been important to me. For the past several decades I have been concerned with the growing antisemitism I'm seeing from both the right and the left. I hope communication and art can help bring understanding.
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