Onward & Upward

One week ago, the morning after the election, many of us were reeling from an outcome that we hadn't anticipated. In the week since, the Kavana community has been home to many intense emotions. Some of us have truly gone into mourning and observed something of a shiva period -- a week of pausing to grieve and offer comfort. Some of us have read every news article we can get our hands on; others have avoided the news almost completely. Some of us feel scared and vulnerable; some angry and resolved. Many of us have found opportunities to engage in conversation with one another, and those discussions have been far-reaching and intense.

One week ago, the morning after the election, many of us were reeling from an outcome that we hadn't anticipated. In the week since, the Kavana community has been home to many intense emotions. Some of us have truly gone into mourning and observed something of a shiva period -- a week of pausing to grieve and offer comfort. Some of us have read every news article we can get our hands on; others have avoided the news almost completely. Some of us feel scared and vulnerable; some angry and resolved. Many of us have found opportunities to engage in conversation with one another, and those discussions have been far-reaching and intense.

When the Shiva of a mourning week ends, there is a custom of getting up and taking a walk around the block, to symbolize that it's time to reengage with the world.  For our community, now is the time to do the same.  Beginning today, we pick ourselves (and each other) up, and re-commit ourselves to the tasks at hand.  

It’s important to be very explicit that our strong reaction to the election is not about Republican vs. Democrat or liberal vs. conservative politics.  This is much more fundamentally about decency vs. indecency, about standing up for the values that we believe in as Jews and defending the rights that we hold dear as Americans.   

We stand together in firm opposition to Donald Trump's hateful speech towards minority groups, and his unwillingness to condemn the hateful speech and acts that his campaign has stirred up. We are concerned about his disregard for the fundamental principles of our democracy (e.g. his threats during the campaign that he believed the system to be "rigged" and would only accept the results of the election if he won). We condemn his lack of regard for the truth, and his willingness to say anything -- even blatant lies -- for expediency. We denounce his attempts to discredit journalists and shut down both free press and political opponents by threatening lawsuits against them. We will not sit quietly by as we wait for Trump to make good on his campaign threats.

Last week we mourned; this week we act. We have work to do, and the time to do it is now. There are so many concrete things that we as concerned citizens can commit to doing:

  • Even if the head of the EPA doesn't believe in climate change, we will be working to protect our environment and all of the natural resources of our country and our planet. 
  • If Muslims are ever truly forced to register in this country, we will register too and encourage everyone we know to do the same. 
  • This week, we will be making calls and writing letters opposing the appointment of Steve Bannon, who has trafficked in anti-semitism and white supremacy, as the White House chief counsel. 
  • We will make donations to organizations whose work will help keep a watchful eye on the rights of Americans, and support the causes that represent the strongest expression of our values. 
  • We will volunteer in support of refugees and immigrants, and mobilize in efforts to achieve racial justice in our country.

Never has the need for spiritual communities in America been clearer. Kavana will organize internally and partner with other communities as we do everything in our power to protect our rights, our values, and our country.    

Now is the time to come together.  We need to be with one another, in our community, sharing our concerns and our hopes. This weekend, Kavana will (once again) offer many opportunities to gather in community, including at the Shabbat Morning Minyan (where we will include a special prayer for our country and words of Torah to offer guidance in this moment), Havdalah Club, the Book Club, and Prep & Practice.  We particularly want to highlight that this Sunday afternoon at 4pm, we were already planning to have a Social Action Think Tank.  Given the urgency that many of are feeling post-election, we will be expanding this into a larger town-hall gathering to discuss Kavana's social action priorities and determine concrete next-steps.  We hope that many of you will plan to join us.

As Pirke Avot teaches (2:20): "The day is short, the labor vast."  We certainly will have our work cut out for us over the next four year, if we are to enact our shared Jewish values in this world. We feel so very fortunately to have all of you as allies in this sacred work. Onward and upward!

With gratitude and hope,
Rabbi Rachel Nussbaum & Rabbi Sydney Danziger