A Special Message from Rabbi Creditor:
Purim and Politics
There is much swirling in our world. Always has been, likely always will be. And, tonight being the beginning of Purim, I thought it wise to share a brief thought about how we Jewishly swirl within a shaky world, especially today.
A deep lesson from Purim is captured in the phrase "Nafoch Hu," or "it was turned upside down" (Megillat Esther, 9:1). Obviously, the original reference was to Haman's (booo!!!!) plot being flipped into a moment of Jewish triumph, thanks to the heroism of Esther and Mordechai.
This reversal of fortunes should bring us the delight of children and costumes,hamentaschen (thank you to Carly for making a list minute run to pick them up from Grand Bakery today!) and libations (#PleasePurimResponsibly).
It should also give us great pause, because it plays a primitive game of absolutes, where absolutes collide, and only the obviously just cause prevails. That isn't reality - it's a comic book. (Not a very good comic book, actually. Much has been written about the complicated heroes who populate modern mythic stories.)
So. What do we do when our political reality begins to resemble poorly conceived comic books, when shouting tyrants dominate public spheres, fomenting violence, bigotry, misogyny, and hate? We are Jews. We look to our texts, to our interpretations, to our tradition, to God, and to the world around us. And, as a modern Jewish community determined to learn as much from our neighbors as we do from our own tradition, we ache. We learn. We listen. We act.
I'd like to not give the ascent of Donald Trump in American politics any more ink or time or energy. But, as Rabbi Sharon Cohen-Anisfeld, Dean of the Rabbinical School at Hebrew College, taught us so powerfully this last Shabbat at Netivot Shalom, the Megillah calls us to attention: "[Mordechai said to his fearful niece Esther, as she doubted her power to achieve deliverance for her community,] 'Who knows if it was because of this very moment that you achieved your position?' (Esther, 4:14)" We dare not remain silent when we have air and voice enough to speak and act.
We know the end of the Megillah's story, because we sing it every Saturday Night together: "For the Jews there was light, joy, gladness, and preciousness (Esther, 8:16).
But, my precious community, that isn't a sure bet, nor is it good enough. What happens to an American Muslim because of the hatred that is permeating so many American voters' hearts happens to us. Aleinu, It is upon us. When violence happens to a Mexican living in America because of the xenophobia being promoted by a leading presidential candidate, Aleinu, it is upon us.
And when that hatred is granted a Jewish space, all the more so. Aleinu, it is truly upon us. I have written and spoken many times during the last few days about what I believe we are called to do in this moment, where the danger and violence Purim portrays feels too close to home here in the United States.
I share here several places I've articulated my thinking,and ask you to join me in thinking about our obligation as Jews in the world to hear what Esther heard, to stand up as Esther did, and to do so for every vulnerable part our society.
Huffington Post Politics (March 14, 2016)
YouTube (March 16, 2016)
The Jewish Daily Forward (March 21, 2016)
Times of Israel (March 22, 2016)
Rabbi Creditor's AIPAC Policy Conference 2016 Address (March 22, 2016)
I pray we have learned the costs of hatred, of seeking only "our tribe's" welfare. We are a Jewish American faith community, proud to be both, obligated by the best within each.
May the light and joy of Purim touch every soul in our nation. May tonight be a beautiful experience here at shul.
Chag Purim Sameach,