By Joel Schwitzer
This past Saturday night, as members of the Dallas Jewish community observed Havdalah, the results of the fractious and contentious election for Dallas City Council District 11 began to become clear. Over the past several months, the heated rhetoric has exploded from campaign fliers to Facebook, Twitter and other online platforms. I have grieved the loss of civility within our normally tight-knit community as people I respect supporting one candidate or the other have at times seemed to give in to their worst yetzer hara, bad inclinations.
Together, we must find a way to repair the sense of cohesion that has always served the Dallas Jewish community so well. It will require a conscious effort by Jews across the political spectrum to neutralize the vitriol unleashed by unbridled passion shown by candidates or their supporters during the runoff, and change it into healing and reconciliation. We must do our own community work in distinguishing between the sacred work of community building and the profane business of running for public office in the modern era.
I have no doubt that both candidates care deeply about our city. Either would have brought their unique experiences, perspectives and personalities to bear to advance the quality of life in our city. With the final tally having been counted, the citizens of District 11 have made their choice. If you passionately supported one of the finalist candidates, I urge you to reach out to a friend who supported the other. Be ready to listen, to learn why their candidate resonated. I am sure amid the discussion you will find common concerns, perhaps even some overlap in your vision of an ideal Dallas, and of course a shared commitment to a strong Jewish community.
In Ecclesiastes we learn “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven…a time to break down, a time to build up… a time to rend, a time to sew… a time for war, a time for peace.” I’d like to invite you to join me in that spirit in recognizing that this is a time to reunite.
Joel Schwitzer is regional director of American Jewish Committee.