This week we marked the one year anniversary since the 2016 election. Over the past year, so many of us have experienced feelings of disappointment, anger, grief, and (at times) despair, as our core beliefs -- values like justice, equality, human dignity, compassion, and love -- have been attacked from every angle. This week's election provided a glimmer of hope.
My word of the week is HOPE -- TIKVAH in Hebrew.
This week's parasha (Chayei Sarah) opens with Abraham mourning the loss of his beloved wife Sarah, grieving and crying over her. And then, after seeing to her burial, he turns his attention to the task of finding a wife for his son Isaac and ensuring a future for his covenanted family.
Our tradition shows us this pattern in countless ways. In the words of the Psalmist, we read "ba-erev yalin bechi, v'la-boker rina" -- "In the evening one may lie down weeping, but joy comes in the morning" (Ps. 30:6). As human beings and as Jews, we are hard-wired for resilience.
This week we marked the one year anniversary since the 2016 election. Over the past year, so many of us have experienced feelings of disappointment, anger, grief, and (at times) despair, as our core beliefs -- values like justice, equality, human dignity, compassion, and love -- have been attacked from every angle. This week's election provided a glimmer of hope. The results of an "off-year" election cannot undo the past (we still have our work quite cut out for us, if we are to ground our society in our positive values!). However, the fact that so many Americans across the country rejected racist, sexist, xenophobic and/or homophobic platforms, provides us with some hope that perhaps our values are shared by enough in our American society to turn the tide.
The Kavana community is far from alone in applying our spiritual lens to American society in this moment, or believing that our religious values can and should inform our engagement in the world. This week, I'm happy to be able to share this piece, assembled by Auburn Seminary, entitled "Surprising Surge of Hope," in which 12 religious leaders (from various faith traditions) answer the question of what has given them hope over the past year.
What gives you hope in this moment? For me, the photos below -- snapshots into recent weeks in the life of Kavana (specifically, the Green Team's environmental clean-up and kids learning about Abraham at Moadon Yeladim) -- fill me with hope.
In weeks like this one, with the climate crisis and political crises in full view, I struggle with the question of agency. Do I have any power at all to effect change? If I cannot control the "big" things that are happening in real time all around me, do my actions matter? It's easy to become dispirited and believe that we don't have much power.
A few weeks ago, Noam and I decided to introduce our kids to the movie Fiddler on the Roof. They were excited to sing along to some already-familiar songs like "Matchmaker" and "Tradition," and thought the wedding scene was beautiful. However, I had forgotten just how dark the end of the movie is. As we watched the Jews being expelled from their village of Anatevka, trudging down the road together, and pausing at the crossroads before going their own separate ways, my 10-year-old asked whether something like that could ever happen to us here in America.
Close your eyes and imagine: a hot bowl of soup simmering on the stove, crisp latkes frying in a pan, or a steaming cup of tea or hot chocolate. Can you almost smell it?! As the weather gets colder and the days darker, it's human nature to turn to "comfort foods" for warmth, satisfaction, nourishment and, well, comfort.