Jan 20, 2021

Upon the Inauguration of President Joseph Biden

We Americans must decide today that ‘the political divide’ is simply a catchphrase and a distraction. The real issue is seeing people with whom we disagree as people. We must acknowledge where we all, as a shared society, are broken, if we are to truly engage in the work of healing. And we are deeply, deeply broken. All Americans, Jews included, are responsible for the reestablishment of truth and trust in our communities. As the ancient sage Rabbi Joshua ben Perachiah once said, “find for yourself a teacher, make a friend, and give all people the benefit of the doubt.” Jewish tradition would have us remember that ideas like unity and faith are shallow promises unless our communal decisions reflect the very real belief in a common good and the commitment to actions that affirm universal human dignity. The sorrow that unites us in the face of 400,000 American lives lost to COVID must translate into a culture of healing and of kindness, grace, and respect. There will be no real peace if there is not enacted justice. As Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel taught, “on three things does the world depend: on justice, on truth, and on peace.” Let there be hope. Let the great work begin today. Let it begin with me. May God bless the United States of America.