I Can’t Sleep. Is this Real?


Yesterday, I wrote words of hope and reconciliation, appealing to the best of our humanity to uphold and work for the values that we most cherish, regardless of the outcome of this election.  Now, less than 24 hours later in the very early hours of the morning, I have to admit very honestly that I am in shock. Deep shock.  I have been so careful throughout this election campaign to respect the essential non-partisan nature of being a pulpit rabbi, sensitive to the fact that several people in our community have supported Trump.  I am also much more aware that a large number of you worked hard for Hilary’s campaign, made donations and believed that we were going to be waking up to America’s first woman president. In this moment where history has just been made, I cannot sleep and I cannot keep silent in the same way, as I feel terrified, angry and very sad.  I am trying to understand the half of the country that is celebrating victory and so aware that the other half, including most of you, is feeling traumatized and betrayed. Right now, I cannot hide my own feelings of fear for what will happen in our country and in our world.  Yet I do not want to be ruled by fear, as fear played such a huge part in this election and I so want to continue to hope and to dream.  Of course, everything that I shared yesterday remains true and we must continue to work for justice and to maintain the ability to listen with compassion to those with such different views of the world and to choose, where we can, loving communication over violence; and yet, it is raw and some of us may need to be with the very real feelings of dismay and rage; anguish and disappointment.  Some of the rhetoric during this campaign has been very disturbing and the surging of ugly hate speech raises alarms for us.  We need to be together. This is just beginning. Dawn has not broken yet. It is still dark outside and our tradition tells us that we cannot recite the morning shema until it is light enough to recognize the face of our fellow.  We need to help the sun rise this morning by truly seeing one another so we can declare Shema Yisrael, calling us to listen to the true unity that transcends all of this.
I have been scheduled for weeks to start a month of leave today in Israel and London and am aware that this is a time that we really need each other, need community, need prayer and listening.  Some of us may really want to talk and process and gather and hold each other and I am sorry that I leaving today, but let’s gather at 10am at Bonai before I head to the airport.  If anyone wants to contact me and arrange a conversation while I am away, I will try to be available.
The Torah portion this week, Lech L’cha, begins with Avram being called on a journey to an unknown place, called to trust that in leaving all that he knows, the solid foundations of his life, a path of blessing will emerge.  The week of lech l’cha is certainly a powerful time to be setting off to the Land of Israel and I feel so privileged to be doing so, but the new journey that we must now all walk feels so unknown and fearful.  I am not sure how to walk this path, neither alone, nor together. Faith has never been simple for me and I am grasping at a hope that there is a light beyond our worst fears that calls us to keep walking.
Today, one day after the election, is the 78th anniversary of Kristallnacht, that horrific night of violence and breaking glass perpetrated against the Jews of Germany. Our member Doris Small remembers that day vividly on the streets of Berlin. History demands that we stand up against bigotry and persecution of any kind; our tradition calls us again and again to do justly and to love compassion.
Before I leave later for the airport, I would like to invite those who want to gather at Bonai at 10am to be together, to say some psalms and prayers for healing and hope, to reflect and be together, to offer a space for those of us saying mourners’ kaddish; to take our next steps together into this new, unknown reality.  Join me if you can.
Blessing us all to keep our hearts open as we feel what we feel on this new day.
Rabbi Marc
PS – Here is a moving piece from a colleague in LA, Rabbi Ken Chasen:
Dear friends,
A few thoughts about what I think many of us are feeling…
Tonight’s events were simply stunning. Practically nobody saw the election going as it did, and already we are seeing the disorientation turn into signs of panic.
I want to suggest that wisdom demands some very intentional patience in this moment. I know that many of us feel that fear contributed mightily to the result of this presidential election. I say that fear must not drive our response to it.
Together, we possess the power to meet this moment of uncertainty and anxiety. We possess the power to resist giving into our fears. We possess the power to strengthen one another, to comfort one another, to lift one another, to inspire one another.
We know the road we are called to walk in moments such as these. It requires that we join together, especially when the struggle is most frightening, to renew our devotion to justice… to remember those who are most at risk, to mobilize for fairness and equality, and to remain steadfast as a force for hope and for love.
Tonight, we feel these demands more deeply than many of us have ever felt them before. That’s okay. That’s more than okay. That’s what is supposed to define our lives.
Let us look upon this night, then, as an opportunity and a charge… to join with one another more deeply, more courageously, and more resolutely than ever. This election has lessons for us. Let us seek to learn them and carry our learning into this next chapter of our lives, for tonight only marks the arrival of a new chapter. It most certainly does not determine our entire story.
We will surely need each other… and we will surely have each other. The challenges before us as a nation and as a human family are great, but they are not greater than we are. We will raise our voices loudly – again and again – to decry bigotry and hatred and the persecution of those most vulnerable, because that’s who we have come to this world to be.
We are resilient. We are kind. We are just. And we are ready.