This week’s Parashat Terumah is about the building the Mishkan, the Holy Sanctuary the people built so God could dwell amongst them.
How interesting to think about this Torah portion in light of the incident at Mount Carmel Cemetery. Acts of cowardice reflecting hatred and bigotry have been turned into sacred and holy work where a community has come together as a holy congregation building and re-consecrating this final resting place. The ugliness of desecration has been turned on its head creating the beauty of one community coming together supporting each other in a time of need. The law of unintended consequences or perhaps the Divine that lives in each of us has taken the act of thugs and transformed it into something remarkable. The outpourings of love by the people of greater Philadelphia have brought a profound sense of hope where despair might have otherwise prevailed. It is almost overwhelming. We have more volunteers wanting to assist in this sacred work of rebuilding than we have space available. Faith leaders, politicians, and just regular people have all come together as one.
Through the rebuilding of Mt. Carmel, Philadelphians are demonstrating a profound love for each other, putting those who would seek to divide us with hatred on notice. Whether the acts of depraved individuals or something more widespread, the forces of darkness have not triumphed over the light shining in our sacred community of Philadelphia. The outpouring of my community of my country heartens me. I am deeply grateful to live here in Philadelphia in these interesting times.
Hate has no home here. Together we Stand Against Hate.
Listen as Cantor Julia Cadrain of Central Synagogue (NYC) sings Sanctuary:
An Anti-Semitic desecration of a cemetery has come to Philadelphia. As most already know, the Mt Carmel Cemetery was vandalized and between 75-100 headstones were toppled. This is an empty act of cowardice, hatred, and stupidity. But more important than the base acts of these thugs is the outpouring of love and support in our community. People joined at Mt. Carmel Cemetery to witness the vandalism and begin the process of restoration. A vigil was held last night in Narberth to express solidarity.
Hate has no home here.
Please donate what you can to aid in the restoration by clicking on this link to the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia: https://www.jewishphilly.org/donate-now-mt-carmel-cemetery#.
Also, the Daarus Salaam Mosque in Tampa was burned this past Friday. Please make a donation to help the Islamic Society of New Tampa community rebuild as well by going to: https://www.launchgood.com/project/stand_with_new_tampa_muslims_against_hate#/
Together we stand, a bit shaken but unbowed, committed to the values of love and unity that make our country great. No acts of domestic terrorism or hatred will dampen our commitment to each other and the country we love.
Six13 helps bring in this Shabbat rocking the Shabbos Project- getting all of us to celebrate Shabbat.
As I reflect on the first month of the new President, it appears clear that the arc of the presidency is shifting. The Founding Fathers were deeply concerned about an Imperial President and created checks and balances to help prevent the Presidency from devolving into a Sovereign. However, a combination of the Legislative branch ceding power to the Executive and a desire for decisive quick action has undermined the traditional process of lawmaking and enforcement. Debates have long raged over the creep towards an Imperial President. These debates have become increasingly political, accusing our Presidents of becoming imperious in the use and abuse of power. Now we appear to have arrived at a new tipping point; the Presidency is imperiled.
Erratic behavior, divisive language, pronouncements without an apparent understanding of the complexities of issues have led to a situation where the President risks marginalizing himself and his office. The Congress is potentially poised to fill the void and assume a position of primacy, provided a strong leadership can restore healthy debate and a cohesive vision for the nation. This is no small feat, but Mr. Ryan, the Speaker of the House, and Mr. McConnell, the Majority Leader of the Senate, could reassert the power of the Legislative Branch of Government.
The President must put forth a unified strategic vision that goes beyond provincial nationalism. His design needs to embody our core values including liberty, equality, and the pursuit of happiness, domestic tranquility. The President’s leadership must also protect and include all Americans. These priorities must also reconcile with our place as the leader of the free world. If the President is unable or incapable of fulfilling these responsibilities, legitimate power will shift to those who are capable, lest our system risk irreversible damage and decline. A government of, by and for the people must preserve, protect and defend us from adversaries both foreign and domestic.
It is our obligation to our nation and ourselves to demand no less. Too much hangs in the balance.
Rabbi Rayzel Raphael Rocks in Shabbat with Psalm 95
Enjoy and Shabbat Shalom
The Fourth Estate is not Mar-a-Lago, it is time for both sides to get back to work.
The Free Press has a sacred place in the American system of government. The Founders knew the profound responsibility they entrusted to the Press to use their powers as a supreme check and balance to the power of each branch of Government. The First Amendment of our Bill of Rights guarantees that this voice is exercised to preserve, protect and defend our country from the corruption that power can bring. Whether the Press fulfills this responsibility, or that the work is appreciated is the open question.
The Press has not always lived up to its sacred obligation. History is replete with examples of the Press being used to support a particular opinion or even worse, smear something with which it does not agree. The phrase “Yellow Journalism” comes from the type of press with little or no legitimate research, with sensational headlines driven by the desire to sell newspapers. It dates back to 1895. The issues of fake news or headlines without legitimacy are not new and have been the nemesis of higher quality journalism has fought for a long time. It is also the scourge of government, undermining anything with which is does not agree, slinging mud and being dishonest by misinforming the public.
Hall of Mirrors
Journalism, the kind with higher purpose as envisioned by the Founders, has its legitimate mission to gather and report the facts as a means of checking government power. It is not the friend of government rather it often plays an adversarial role. That, however, is not grounds for government officials to cast aspersions on all the press. It is to be put those officials on notice that the people are watching and you officials are ultimately responsible to us. The recent hard work of the press corps in the matter of Michael Flynn should be viewed as an important step in protecting “We the People.”
Government of, by, and for the people is the extraordinary sacred mission our officials are tasked to do. Ensuring and preserving that is the sacred mission the Free Press. It is time for everyone to do his or her respective jobs.
Nava Tehila sings Hod v’Hadar, lines taken from Psalm 96 celebrating the grandeur and glory of God, as we sing a new song to the Eternal.
Wishing everyone Shabbat Shalom- a Shabbat of rest, peace, and wholeness.