The holidays are over. Do we say that sadly or with relief or maybe a little of both? Going from the reflection and seriousness of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur to the joy and fun of Sukkot and Simchat Torah reflects so much about Judaism and the way Jews have always embraced life. It reminds us of the story of the coin in a small box given to King Solomon. He was told when things get bad, and they will, open the box and look at the coin and then when things are good, open the box and turn the coin over. And what was written on each side? “This too shall pass!”A sad statement? Maybe but maybe not — life without sad would not allow us to truly enjoy happiness!
So as the month of Cheshvan soon begins with no Jewish holidays but the wonderful American holiday of Thanksgiving, why am I feeling so pensive? Without getting into specific politics, I must admit this election is almost all consuming. There are lessons galore for all of us. However, to be “politically correct”, this is not the place to share opinions but to share the wonderful life we have living in democracy (Yes, I know some people will argue with me over that statement.).
Let me share a website with you — www.ritualwell.org. It will not suit everyone’s fancy but it is definitely a thoughtful site. The challenge is to look at the rituals we (ourselves and our family) continue and to find new or different ways of celebrating our Judaism. As I contemplated what to write (and whether to write) about the coming election, these ideas came from the site. First, let us remember the rabbis “command” that we say 100 blessings every day. As we get closer to election day, here is an election day blessing written by Camp JRF Campers, Summer 2015, from the ritualwell blog:
“Blessed are You, oh Lord our God, who gives us freedom, justice, and the power to choose our leaders. We pray that those who cannot vote can still be represented fairly in our democracy. We pray that those around the world who do not have the same freedoms will one day be able to share our freedom to vote.”
Rabbi David Seidenberg in the same blog shares these thoughts: “If you can’t pray in a voting booth, where can you pray? And where would you need more to pray? This prayer is not about casting a winning vote or supporting a particular party. It’s a prayer that peace may come through whomever is elected, on behalf of the whole planet. It’s also more than that: you, the pray-er, are invited to add your own pledge that embodies the ideals you are praying for and voting for, to live your prayer.”
There you have me as political as I will get — we have the obligation and the opportunity to vote and to work for peace.
Shalom…from the Shabbat Lady,
Laura Seymour is director of Camping Services at the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center.