As a public health practitioner for over a decade, as well an avid student of history, recent events have me concerned.
Marking Israel’s 70th anniversary, more than 60 leaders and supporters of Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) from across the United States traveled to Israel this month as part of the FIDF National Leadership Mission, getting an exclusive look into the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and showing their solidarity with and appreciation for Israel’s brave soldiers.
In America, Congress enacts legislation, often after a lengthy process of deliberation. Americans may sometimes believe that the process reaches the wrong result or takes too long to address important issues. At those times, it is important for people to reaffirm their commitment to democratic norms. A republic can only thrive if its citizens — even those whose views do not prevail — respect the democratic process.
President Obama after Newtown. President Bush after 9/11. President Clinton after Oklahoma City. None of those presidents were to blame for those terrible atrocities. What they were responsible for were their words and actions after the events took place; how they handled the aftermath of those tragedies and their attempts to comfort and provide leadership for the nation.
On Oct. 8, the world’s leading climate scientists put out a warning that there are only a dozen years for climate change to be kept at a maximum of 1.5 degrees Celsius (about 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit), the tipping point after which major climate and earth system disturbances will occur. The authors of the landmark report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a full copy of which is available online, say that “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented change in all aspects of society” are needed to reach the target.
Headlines and tweets regularly scream about our economic differences with other countries and the need to bring about greater “fairness” in trade deals. President Trump has been particularly active in this regard, picking fights and slapping tariffs on products imported from our major trading partners.
Whether about a college professor or an old boss, Jews don’t lack for anecdotes about authority figures bemused at the presentation of an unfamiliar Jewish holiday or practice. Sometimes those conversations were light, friendly learning experiences. Other times, however, you found yourself frantically scrolling for the Wikipedia page that would confirm Shavuot was a real holiday, not something you made up, or that you really couldn’t make it to the company retreat. You understood that if this person chose, for his or her own reasons, not to acknowledge something that is an external expression of your internal identity, there could be negative consequences for you.
President Donald J. Trump is the most powerful person alive. He is single-handedly responsible for everything that transpires in America. His power lies not in the uniformed army of which he is Commander in Chief, but rather in the white, straight, cisgender guerilla fighters scattered throughout the nation, whom he can summon to action with a single tweet. No man’s voice holds more influence than President Trump’s. He alone has the power to inspire a man to pick up a gun and shoot up a school or a synagogue.
I am a Jewish teenager from Hungary, a post-socialist country with a totalitarian government. As a result of our historical experiences with soft dictatorships and the current regime’s rhetoric, Hungarian society is suffering from a strong level of passiveness, a general attitude of being disengaged, and not raising one’s voice. Meanwhile, political and civic organizing are slowly being banished from the country, through stigmatization in both official rhetoric and legislation.
I am a chaplain in a 900-bed inner-city hospital in Washington, D.C. As a chaplain, blessings are the substance of my spiritual day. I love to bless and recognize blessings, and once a year we go to all the units and bless the hands of scores of nurses.
One of my fondest childhood memories is being the star of a Chanukah play at my religious school. The director was the principal’s daughter and also my dance teacher. I was given the starring role: the shamash candle. Eight children stood with their backs to the audience. As the shamash, I danced up to each “candle” and tapped them gently on the head, and each candle turned to face the audience, now “lit” with fiery-red makeup on their faces. After all eight were lit, I turned, pale-faced. Even as a 6-year-old child, I would not let anyone near me with face paint or cosmetics.
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