Yesterday, Shabbat, turned out to be a day of celebration: the election of a new President of the United States! My city, Philadelphia, was at the heart of the “dancing in God’s earthquake.” Literally dancing.
And then came the ceremony of Havdalah, distinguishing between Shabbat and the work week. The ceremony calls the rest of the week, in Hebrew, “chol.” Many translate that as “mundane.” But my teacher Rabbi Max Ticktin, of blessed memory, taught that “chol” came from the same root as “chalil” or “chilul,” hollow like a flute waiting to be filled. Shabbat is given as holy; the rest of the week is up to us to fill with holiness or not. There is much we must yet do, to fulfill our sacred vision of a full democracy:
There are three immediate tasks that I think that our community needs to address.
One – that I devoutly hope we will not need to muster, but we might – is to mount a vigorous, utterly nonviolent campaign protecting democracy, in case the present lame-duck President tries to shatter it. As of this morning, November 8, that seems unlikely – but not yet impossible.
The second -- is to make it possible for President-Elect Biden to govern with a Congress able to respond to serious proposals to meet the deep crises facing America and Earth:
There are at least four: public health in a worsening pandemic; massive disemployment; broad awareness of embedded racism (including White House contempt and hatred for immigrants and refugees); and the climate crisis of wildfires and floods.
Whether President Biden can meet the need to address these four immediate crises may depend on whether half the Senate behaves as it did facing President Obama, determined to destroy every one of his initiatives, no matter how shaped to benefit the nation.
it may depend on the results of two run-off elections for the US Senate in Georgia. If the two Democrats both win, the Senate would be tied 50-50 and Vice-President Kamala Harris would shortly vote to organize it with Democrats in the majority. That might not make possible major steps like admitting the District of Columbia to statehood, but it would make it possible for President Biden to name his own Cabinet without being denied major nominations by a Republican Senate (as some Senators have already threatened).
One of those Georgia elections is between Jon Ossoff. a young Jewish journalist, a moderate liberal who was interviewed three years ago by a leading reporter of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, and an incumbent Senator, David Perdue, whose record is reported by Wikipedia. (If Ossoff’s name seems odd, it is a variant of “Yosef,” or “Joseph.”)
The other run-off is being contested by Rev. Raphael Warnock, for 15 years pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, which had been the church of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Kelly Loeffler, a very rich appointee to fill the seat of a resigned senator who has put up 20 million dollars of her own money to pay for her campaign to fill the rest of the Senate seat.
We will supply more detailed information about all four of these candidates.
The third task that we face is deeper and harder. About 48% of the America people voted for a president who many of the other 52% think was a neo-fascist. That does not make 48% of the people racists, fascists, pro-billionaire, pro-wildfire, pro-virus. It does bespeak a call, an outcry, from the depths of pain of almost all the people – a call to speak and to listen to each other. We will soon write more about how to do that.
Shalom, salaam, paz, peace, namaste! -- Arthur