Shalom Chaverim (Dear Friends),
Like most of you I’m sure, I have spent today watching the events taking place at our Capitol with sadness and horror.
As a proud American, it broke my heart when my son said to me, “Abba (Dad), we are the laughingstock of the world.” I never imagined that I would sit with my children watching an armed standoff, physical threats being made toward members of the U.S. government, and the unraveling of our democracy amid violent riots. Clearly, this is not about political differences, but rather about the very fabric of our society. To quote President-elect Biden’s speech this afternoon, “The scenes of chaos at the Capitol do not reflect a true America, do not represent who we are.”
A peaceful transition of power is at the very core of democracy, and to threaten it is to threaten the unprecedented freedom, security, peace, and prosperity with which our Jewish community has been blessed in this country. Seeing firsthand the vulnerability of our government and the fragility of our democracy feels downright scary to me as an American and particularly as a Jewish American.
In the introduction to his book, The Soul of America, Jon Meacham writes: “In our finest hours, the soul of the country manifests itself in an inclination to open our arms rather than to clench our fists; to look out rather than to turn inward; to accept rather than to reject. In doing so, America has grown ever stronger, confident that the choice of light over dark is a means by which we pursue progress.”
Today, it feels like America has grown weaker as we witness one of our darkest hours. This is a jarring reminder that we have tremendous work to do — reckoning with the brokenness of our society and repairing the wounds that divide us. As American citizens and as a Jewish community, may we stay hopeful and committed to these sacred tasks.
Please join me in praying for our country, for the safety and well-being of our elected officials, those in harm’s way right now in Washington, D.C., and all of the inhabitants of our nation.
B’virkat Shalom (With blessings of peace),
Rabbi Marc Baker
About the Author
CJP President and CEO Rabbi Marc Baker is an educator, writer, and leadership mentor who is devoting his life to Jewish learning and building Jewish communities.