A Rosh Hashanah Like No Other Encountering this Religious Experience in this Most Uncommon Moment
With all of its physical limitations, the Jewish New Year of 5781 will represent the single most significant religious gathering of Jews. As a result of our virtual connections, it is likely that more Jews will experience some form of the High Holy Day ritual experience than at any time in history. This moment may be as well the most challenging experience of our lifetime. How do we understand the idea of “future,” even the meaning of a “New Year” amidst this pandemic and the backlash of social unrest and economic chaos?
Are we seeing Americans give up on America? For the first time in my lifetime, I am hearing from some fellow citizens about leaving this country, as they fear that the democratic dream that has been America is beginning to come undone and their sense of personal security is unraveling.
The Jewish political tradition is rich as it is historic. The principles that define and shape how Jews understand and engage in the political process is drawn from their past, tied to their tradition and built on their encounters with modern political thought and practice. The materials gathered here are taken from an array of sources, reflective of the many different perspectives about Jews and political power.
The Revolution is Upon Us! Preparing for the New Normal
We are living in a transformative moment. This transition is less about the pandemic and more about the outcomes that we are preparing to experience. For certain, the economic picture is unclear, just as the political environment remains unsettled. “The impact of COVID-19 on life around the globe is extraordinary, and nonprofits are no exception to the disruption.” What will this mean for our society, our economy and our Jewish community?
What’s Going on Here? Why We Are Feeling Overwhelmed with the Rise in Anti-Semitism
The story of anti-Semitism is an old one, yet we American Jews have been spared much of what has defined the European marketplace of hostile ideas and destructive behaviors. A new storyline of hate appears to be present, as every poll taken of American Jewish opinion is reporting record levels of concern over heightened levels of anti-Semitism. This current manifestation of anti-Semitism is joined both from the right and the left, marking the first time in our American experience where we are experiencing this phenomenon. But there is also an unsettled feeling in connection with the rise of Black anti-Semitism.
I. Greatest Jewish Learning Moment in History: With the availability of Zoom, more Jews are being exposed to Jewish learning, history, and culture than at any point in time. Synagogues, national organizations, and federations are all reporting significant attendance for many of their educational programs. Similarly, significantly larger numbers of Jews are participating in religious worship observances. A new “virtual Judaism” is emerging that represents a level of communal engagement.
Over the years, my articles here and elsewhere have tried to define the characteristics, interests and practices associated with Jewish political behavior. As we gear up for the 2020 elections, it may be useful to redefine some of these core elements while adding some specific insights about this forthcoming campaign, an election described by some as the most important in American history.
Unfortunately, what we are currently witnessing in this society are the makings of a perfect storm for racism and anti-Semitism. A pandemic out of control, an economy in a tailspin, and a nation facing political uncertainty and social tension, all factors that create an environment conducive to producing hate and creating the seeds for violence. The seeds of discontent serve to undermine the principles and practices of American political culture.
This is an extraordinary period in the American historical journey! But it is also a transformational moment for the State of Israel.
This fall, Americans will be determining the future direction of this nation, not only in shaping its political voice but also defining its moral compass. What type of a society will we become in our third century? A confluence of factors is playing out. Is this the American “Spring”? Will the unfolding events surrounding this pandemic, the fallout in connection with the issues of racial injustice, economic dislocation, and social discord fundamentally change our democracy and our civic culture?