Category Archives: government

The Fourth Estate is not Mar-a-Lago- The Sacred Duty of the Press


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.

People of Faith United against Terror, Where are you Mr. President?

The third wave of terror threats against JCCs has swept across our country to begin this week. This on the heels is the actual act of terror: setting a Mosque on fire. These are not idle pranks. These are coordinated attacks designed to create havoc and fear in the Jewish and Muslim Communities. This is Terrorism.

As scary as these terror attacks are, so is the lack of response by the President. Why hasn’t he spoken out against domestic terrorism and on behalf of the FBI and the Justice Department supporting a full-scale investigation?   Why hasn’t the White House publicly condemned these criminal acts of hate? Silence is the tacit acceptance that hatred of Jews and Muslims is sanctioned. A nation dedicated to freedom of religion must act to protect the exercise of that freedom when it is threatened.   The First Amendment is more than fancy words written on fancy paper in fancy script. It is the eloquent aspiration of a nation striving to a beacon to the world; it is the bedrock principle upon which that nation is built. If it is anything less, then it is not worth the paper it is written upon.

President Trump, I call upon you to publicly condemn these acts and actively voice support law enforcement’s efforts to find the perpetrators of these odious acts and bring them to justice.

We people of faith stand together, united in our American voice that ensures each of us can speak in our own particular way.   This solidarity is beautifully represented by Temple B’nai Israel giving its keys to the Victoria Islamic Center’s founders so that the Mosque’s people of faith have a home until they can rebuild and a public funding page dedicated to raising money to ensure that happens.

There’s got to be a morning after

I was thrilled to see the level of engagement around the country this past Saturday. The civil rights that so many have fought so hard to achieve are precious and will neither be surrendered or taken away. But preserving, protecting, and expanding our civil rights requires vigilance and hard work that started the day after the protest marches and needs to continue as a daily commitment against those who would threaten these precious rights.

Our Rights should be self-evident but we cannot treat them like an entitlement. For many, our Rights were achieved only after hard work and even bloodshed, and they remain vulnerable. Marching is the beginning of organizing and speaking out is the beginning of developing a political voice. Although the administration is in place for the next four years, the Congress is up in two. The politicians must know that we will support only those who safeguard and champion the rights we hold so dear.

The morning after is when the hard work begins. So after the Women’s March, we must take the next steps. Find your place to make your actions count. 10 Actions in 100 Days is a place to join those already organized to continue the work. Together we can make a difference, preserving and protecting the Rights we hold dear.

www.womensmarch.com/100

 

Constancy in the face of Change

safetypinThe election has many of us anxious, unsure of what will happen to us next, fearful that strides we have made will be stripped away.

The ground did shift underneath us all last week. But the tremble did not cause us to fall. I am no different from who I was last week in the matters that count. Last week I stood tall, aspiring to create a nation of dignity, equality, opportunity, safety and security for all our citizens. This week I stand perhaps taller and more firmly in those ideals and values. There is a greater sense of urgency in my posture today, but this is a good thing. Our movement forward has never been easy. The fight for human rights and inclusion, a nation freer from prejudice, hatred and fear have been an ongoing struggle. But our commitment remains, our resolve undiminished even if the challenge might be greater.

Today I wear a safety-pin on my lapel to let people who are fearful know that they are not alone. As an American, a Jew, and a Rabbi, I stand with them and I will continue to do my part as an advocate, and that we continue to stand side by side. We march forward dedicated to bringing America’s blessings to all.

Joining hands we move forward together toward a brighter future. We are the change we envision.

 

We will be Okay

Will we be okay?

What do I tell my kids?wethepeople

Those are two questions that have been asked since the nation elected Donald Trump as President of the United States last night.

The answer to the first question is: Yes. And we will tell our children the following: On November 8, our country elected Mr. Trump to be our next President. For many of us, he was not the person we wanted but our nation has spoken in a way that makes this country extraordinary. We voted and we decided. Our process worked. Despite our deep disagreements, we all have a President-elect.

Now it is time to find a way to move forward. We will pray our new President embraces the idea that he is the President of all people of the United States and that the United States has unique responsibilities because it holds a unique role in the world. Whether we agree with Mr. Trump’s personal or political views, we hope for his success as the leader of our nation. At the same time, we need to embrace our important place to fight for what we believe to be right especially given the circumstances that brought us to this place.

We have long relied on government intervention to address the issues and solve problems. However, for many in America, that did not work. They felt abandoned if not betrayed, with promises of protection broken and a system unresponsive to their needs. And for many others of us, we have been lulled into complacency and a false sense of security. This election is a harsh wake-up call and rouses us to action, not against the government, but aware of governments’ limitations to help the governed. It is up to us to create the change we seek now more than ever. Voting is only a first step in a process of engagement. Showing up at local meetings, petitioning Congressman, and holding the new president and every part of government accountable must ensue. Community organizing is vital. Our aspirations and goals are in our hands. We cannot relegate them to another’s care, certainly not now. Our community groups, both religious and civic, can use this moment in our history to reinvigorate and rededicate themselves, advancing important values of dignity, equality, and justice.

Yes, we will be all right.   The United States of America is strong and we her people are resilient.   But the future is in our hands. It is our work as Rabbis and other faith leaders to help guide and support the people as teachers, chaplains and champions of social justice and the values we hold dear. There is much to do and our work has never been more important.

Lincoln’s Great Words Stir us this Election Day

This past Sunday I was honored to address American Veterans, families, and friends at the dedication of a plaque commemorating them and their service and those who died in service of our country.  I was inspired by President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and the fact that Election Day is November 8.

Lincoln and Gettysburg Address

Lincoln and Gettysburg Address

Dear Veterans, other Distinguished Guests and Friends. Today we gather to pay tribute to those members of our community who gave their lives in defense of our country. They fought and died on the battlefields of too many wars in defense of our nation and our way of life. We celebrate them and cherish their memories. It is right and proper that we honor their memories. But our words alone are insufficient.

I recall the words of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. How can we properly consecrate or hallow the memories of those who died so bravely on our behalf? Mere words today cannot do justice to the sacrifice made. Nothing we can say will add or detract from their actions. But, as President Lincoln shared, it is for us the living to dedicate ourselves to the great task that lay ahead of us; that we resolve these dead shall not have died in vain. For us, this great dedication is actually twofold.

First, we must exercise our sacred privilege two days from today on November 8th and cast our votes for the leaders that will take us forward: President, Senator, Congressman at the national level and the other men and women that will represent us as our elected officials at State and local levels.   It is essential for us the living to embrace this most fundamental grounding principle of our great nation and exercise the franchise for which so many have fought and died.   But our work is not yet done.

Second, The divisions that exist among our citizens must be healed and closed. To truly do honor to our fallen heroes, the inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness must be accessible to all our citizens; the opportunities to reach that full measure of the American Dream, and institutions dedicated to this goal, shall make a new birth of freedom and that government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall remain the strong and enduring light of hope for everyone of us.