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.
You planned on giving your acceptance speech at the Javits Center, a building purposefully selected because it has a glass ceiling. This was supposed to be a ceiling-shattering moment in our history.
I am familiar with the phrase — women who work towards changing the status quo are referred to as “ceiling breakers.” We hit our heads against the establishment until there are fractures of light and hope shimmering through. And then we keep going, ignoring the accusations of “a feminist agenda,” or “destroying tradition,” when our intent is to simply serve the people.
In an election that was not supposed to be about gender, gender became the undertone of so much of the discourse. Women were maligned and harassed. And you, Hillary, became both the symbol of transcending the gender divide, and the object of its demise. We no longer are faced with a glass ceiling, but now, we hit our heads against an unwavering solid cement ceiling.
But I am not a pessimist. Most ceiling breakers cannot afford to be. And so, with your voice in mind, I have begun to wonder if in order to move forward from this tumultuous and divisive election, we need a new metaphor to change the status quo. One where there isn’t one person who is charged with the impossible task of breaking through, but where we join forces, men and women, and together march forward. If we only move vertically, we need to stand on one another’s shoulders, and only one of us will get there. But if we link our arms together, we will march towards a new reality, where we all walk forward with a renewed sense of responsibility to bring moral justice, love and kindness into the world.
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Next Week: Check back here for responses from Rabbi David Wolpe of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, Rabbie Ellie Kaunfer co-founder and director of Machon Hada; 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)