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TOWARD A HOPEFUL AUTUMN

Tuesday,November 3, 2020

I woke up this morning with a feeling I’ve never had before on election day: What was the point of getting up, my body said, since everything could be different by tomorrow? But habit is strong, and I did get up.

The election brought out another political schism I find discouraging, within the Jewish community. Not being able to talk honestly and with mutual respect and understanding with some relatives, some neighbors, and even some friends has been deeply discouraging.

Then an Orthodox neighbor stopped by and asked if we could make a date to talk about some of the things I’ve written. If not for Covid, I would have hugged her right then and there. All reconciliations begin with small steps and honest curiosity. We have to see past current sticking points to realize that there is a future ahead.

Autumn is happening intensely outside, and I’ve been experiencing it with special intensity. There was that wonderful few days when the maples were still leafed in green, but every leaf was tipped in orange flame. I identified with those maples. During the pandemic, with no access to beauty parlors, I’ve grown a silver cap, and I rather like it. I said to myself, that beautiful flame color was hiding in the leaf all along, but it didn’t show itself until a bit of cold weather began to strip the green away. My silver cap is just as beautiful as the orange flames, and it was there all along. It took some years of living and a pandemic to help me see the beauty of this next stage of life.

America, with all its faults, has hidden beauties too. We have survived a civil war and two world wars. We have lots of work to do before we come close to the ideal of our country we imbibed in fourth grade. But our habit of pulling together is our silver cap, and I hope it will shine through. How much more true of my dear Jewish people, who have lived through expulsions and crusades and holocausts and millenia of internal disagreements.

Live, America, learn from your years of living. And live, my Jewish people, learn from your years of crisis and new growth. May you both outlast us mere humans and inspire generations to come.

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