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New beginnings

01/21/2021 09:37:47 AM

Jan21

Rabbi Jeffrey Myers

New beginnings should be a time of hope and promise for a brighter tomorrow. Consider for a moment these beginnings, and what they mean or have meant to you: Rosh Hashanah (for my Jewish readers); January 1; acquiring a new car; moving into a new dwelling; getting married; the birth of a child, grandchild or great-grandchild; the start of summer if you live by the shore; the start of winter if you enjoy winter sports; opening day; first day of school on any level. All of these are filled with excitement for a brighter tomorrow. We frequently count down to that day, and even have pre-events, such as the day pitchers and catchers report, with great expectations on the horizon. To continue my baseball metaphor for a bit longer, every team begins the season anew, with the hopes that they will make it to the World Series. Very quickly we learn who will be in the running and who will not, which team continues in the rebuilding, which team is on the rise, and which team continues its’ fall. While we are sometimes surprised by a team that gels after the midpoint of the season, usually the All-Star break, unless a team has a catastrophic team-wide failure, which has happened, by mid-summer it is usually clear which teams have positioned themselves to advance into the playoffs. But it all starts with opening day, and the excitement that it brings for a productive, winning season.

The same is true for the presidency of the United States. With the inauguration of any president, Inauguration Day is one filled with hope. That is the way it has always been, and that is the way that it must be. Despite differences of opinion, all Americans have more in common with each other than not. We all want COVID to go away; we all want the economy to improve, to create jobs for all who want that pay a reasonable wage, to be able to acquire a roof over ones’ head, food on the table, clothes on ones’ back, affordable, accessible, and equal health insurance for all, and a pension plan that provides sufficient support when ones’ day in the work force concludes; we all desire access to a quality education for our children; we all want to be respected and treated with kindness and fairness by all of our fellow citizens.

We must recognize our commonalities and focus on them, not focus on our differences. Productive results ensue when we work together for the same things; destructive results ensue when we work in opposition for different things. I would like to think that enough of the previously mentioned commonalities would be sufficient to bring all Americans to the table to work together. Building successes, confidence in each other and mutual trust are critical precursors to being able to have hard yet respectful discussions about the things where we disagree. It all must start with the desire for hope and a brighter future that a new president brings.

The Prayer for our Country (Siddur Sim Shalom) that I regularly read expresses my prayers best:

                Our God and God of our ancestors: We ask Your blessings for our country – for its government, for its leaders and advisors, and for all who exercise just and rightful authority. Teach them insights from your Torah, that they may administer all affairs of state fairly, that peace and security, happiness and prosperity, justice and freedom may forever abide in our midst. Creator of all flesh, bless the inhabitants of our country with Your spirit. May citizens of all races and creeds forge a common bond in true harmony, to banish H and bigotry, and to safeguard the ideals and free institutions that are the pride and glory of our country. May this land, under Your providence, be an influence for good throughout the world, uniting all people in peace and freedom – helping them to fulfill the vision of Your prophet: “Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they experience war any more.” And let us say: Amen.

Wed, February 24 2021 12 Adar 5781