Tag Archives: racial inequality

Unetanneh Tokef, Yom Kippur and the Year That is 2020

No one has a crystal ball when it comes to the future. We can only live in the moment.

This coming weekend is Yom Kippur, the most important day on the Jewish calendar. One of the prayers we chant is called Unetanneh Tokef. The purpose of the prayer is to ask our heavenly parent for one more year of life on Earth. The text is as follows:

“All mankind will pass before You like a flock of sheep.[38] Like a shepherd pasturing his flock, making sheep pass under his staff, so shall You cause to pass, count, calculate, and consider the soul of all the living; and You shall apportion the destinies of all Your creatures and inscribe their verdict.

On Rosh Hashanah will be inscribed and on Yom Kippur will be sealed – how many will pass from the earth and how many will be created; who will live and who will die; who will die after a long life[39] and who before his time; who by water and who by fire, who by sword and who by beast, who by famine and who by thirst, who by upheaval [40] and who by plague, who by strangling and who by stoning. Who will rest and who will wander, who will live in harmony and who will be harried, who will enjoy tranquility and who will suffer, who will be impoverished and who will be enriched, who will be degraded and who will be exalted. But Repentance, Prayer, and Charity annul the severity of the Decree.”

Looking back at the year that is 2020 so far, this prayer feels like a message we need to hear. Before Covid-19 hit, life seemed so sure. But between the virus, the racial inequities, and everything that has happened this year, I’m not so sure anymore.

No one knows exactly when their time will be up or how they will go. We can only ask for as much time on Earth as possible.

For those who are fasting, have an easy fast and may we all be written in the book of life for another year.

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Thoughts On the 4th of July

Today is America’s Independence Day.

I wish today was an ordinary 4th of July. But as we all know, 2020 is not an ordinary year.

If nothing else, the protests following the murder of George Floyd and the issues created by Covid-19 has revealed the cracks in American society. If none of this was happening, it would be easy to ignore them. But one cannot ignore long standing issues if they are in your face 24/7.

We are at a precipice. We can either put our rose colored glasses on or we can finally start the process of becoming the nation that we could be. This is not the first time we have been at a crossroads. We can move forward as country. We can heal and accept that collectively, we have made mistakes. We only need to step up to the plate and learn from the past.

Wherever you are and whatever you are doing this weekend, have a happy and safe Independence Day.

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Trevor Noah Speaks of the Painful Truth of Racism in America

It has been said that until one has walked a mile in another’s shoes, one can never truly understand the other person. But that does not mean that we can’t at least try to understand another person’s perspective.

We live in a country in which one’s skin color is one of the factors that determines one’s fate. We also live in a country in which unconscious bias and white privilege also play a role in determining one’s fate. As a Caucasian woman of Eastern European Jewish descent, I’ve never thought about the privilege automatically assigned to me because of my skin color. The last few weeks have made it painfully clear that because of a twist of fate, I have access and a perception that is denied to Americans of color.

Because I do not have the first person experience that a person of color has, I will not even try to speak of that experience. But Trevor Noah has that experience and it is heartbreaking.

I would say that I hope (which often springs eternal) that we, as Americans have finally learned our lesson about racism and racial inequality. But the last few weeks have reminded this nation, in a painful way, that both are still alive and well, even in 2020.

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