Joanne Palmer
Joanne Palmer

Thinking about change

Sometimes it seems like change is happening so quickly that there’s nothing stable left to hold onto.

The most obvious example is the presidential election. No matter what you feel about the ascension to the presidency of Donald J. Trump (and yes, most of us have very strong feelings about it — mine are a complicated mixture of terror, disbelief, total dread, did I mention a total sense of disbelief, and oh yes, the unshakeable sense of looming and very messy disaster) it is necessary to acknowledge that it is a massive change.

Trump’s victory was unexpected. It is disquieting, just in stylistic terms, to go from the elegant, restrained President Barack Obama, who glides like Fred Astaire, whose dispassionate cool enraged some people while gladdening others, and who does not tweet injudiciously, to the loud, proudly vulgar Trump, who unabashedly loves gilt and gelt, unleashes tweetstorms, makes clear, in ways that his admirers adore, whom and what he hates, and in almost all things is Obama’s polar opposite.

And, it is necessary to add, who won, at least in the Electoral College, the place where it counts.

So what do we do now? We’ve just gotten through Thanksgiving, where some of us had to deal with relatives whose opinions ran counter to ours, and where we had to be careful that our turkey did not come with a helping of bile. We are heading to the inauguration, in January, when the feelings we perhaps have managed to squash are guaranteed to emerge stronger and angrier than ever.

But, as Abe Foxman reminds us, we’re all in this together, not only as Americans but also as Jews.

We are Americans, after all. We just celebrated Thanksgiving. We’re Jewish Americans. We look forward to Chanukah. As the exhibit at the New-York Historical Society shows, we have been part of this glorious enterprise since the beginning. We will continue to be. Those of us who think we have to fight will figure out how to fight, and the people who think that we are where we should be and are going where we should be going will be able to relax.

But we are all one people.

About the Author
Joanne is the editor of the Jewish Standard and lives in Manhattan with her husband and two dogs, so she has firsthand knowledge of two thriving and idiosyncratic Jewish communities. (Actually that's three communities, if you also count the dog people.)