Editor's Note: At the suggestion of educator and Jewish Week columnist, Erica Brown, a number of leading voices in the Jewish community were asked to write a letter reflecting their post-election thoughts. See more letters from other leaders in the Jewish community below, and look out for part two of this issue below.
Your hearts are broken, I know.
Our sages believed that the heart contained two chambers. Inside one were all the self-serving impulses that urged us to make families, build houses, amass fortunes and push the world ahead. Inside the other were all the altruistic impulses of service to others, compassion and generosity. They believed that neither was sufficient in and of itself. No matter how strong, a half-hearted effort was unsustainable.
Our expectations, we want to believe, were borne of altruism. The opposition, we want to believe, was entirely self-serving. When our hearts broke, so did our view of the world.
Now is not the time to give up. If anything, those baser inclinations that are directed at the vulnerable members of our communities give us the mandate to strengthen the human family, build up our houses, bank our good will and commit to the progressive values that move us forward, not backward to some imagined greatness. In that sense, we should be selfish and self-serving in response to discrimination and neglect.
At the same time, there will never be a more necessary time to be of service to others, to show compassion to those who are afraid and to be generous with your time and resources. So many of your fellow Americans believed their troubles would be over with the national election. They were wrong. They will hurt, just as you do.
No half-hearted efforts here. Heal your broken heart. Bind your wounds. Get back to work.
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Next Week: Check back here for responses from Rabbi David Wolpe of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, Rabbi Elie Kaunfer co-founder and director of Mechon Hadar; Steven Bayme, national director of the contemporary Jewish life department at the American Jewish Committee; Erica Brown of the Mayberg Center for Jewish Education and Leadership at George Washington University; and Dov S. Zakheim, former undersecretary of defense (2001-2004)