Rabbi’s Message February 2021

I’m writing these words a few days after the horrible events at the Capitol. At this very moment, the House of Representatives is voting on a second impeachment of the President of the United States. I have no idea what will happen in the next few hours or days. By the time you read this, G-d willing, we will have inaugurated a new President without any further violence.

When I spoke on Yom Kippur morning, I emphasized my fears that there would not be a peaceful transfer of power. I wish that I had been wrong.

What I want to discuss in this brief space is one seemingly minor point. It’s about not rushing to judgment. We live in a world where information flows in a fast and furious
way. Some of that information is false to begin with, or turns out to be wrong. We have to be careful about what we say and do before we really understand the facts.

When I sat with my family watching the insurrection on January 6th, I could not really grasp what was happening. At first, I was embarrassed to be an American. I thought
I was watching a bunch of Nazis and white supremacists having a wild spree. I could not see the violence and the murderous rage and the police who were being murdered and injured. I had never seen anything like it and I could only see a little of what was going on. The best I could do was to wait and try to learn more.

In the days that followed, we all learned more, and we came to understand the forces that had been consciously and purposely unleashed on one of the most sacred aspects of democracy, the peaceful transfer of power based on a fair and legal election, at the most sacred institution of our country, the Capitol.

As I write, we are beginning to find the ways to punish those responsible. In every case, we should wait to see what our legal processes determine.

Each of us is being tested every day, every time we think we have heard a fact. My minor point is that we should not rush and base ourselves on bits and pieces that may not be true.

My more important point is that it is only through facts that we will re-unite a country that has been living in two different worlds of facts. If you think, to choose two examples, that the virus is a hoax, and climate change is a hoax, you live in a different world of facts than I do. What we need to do is establish the facts for everyone. Our democracy will survive this test, but only if we stop saying that all truth is relative and that it is acceptable to have alternative facts. The virus is all too real and the denial of its reality led to the deaths of thousands and thousands of lives. Climate change is all too real and it could lead to the destruction of our earth. The election was fair and free and it is a glory of our democracy. G-d bless America.

Rabbi Scolnic