Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Hits Keep Coming

Ever since last Saturday the hits have just kept coming.

First, neo-Nazis, Klansmen, and other white supremacists descended on Virginia (an increasingly diverse and open state) to intimidate people and voice their hatred publicly. Then, a terrorist associated with them drove his car into a crowd of peaceful counter-protesters, killing Heather Heyer and injuring many others, while two police officers also died en route to help quell the violence. In Boston, a teenager shattered a glass memorial to Holocaust survivors - the second time this summer that vandals have attacked the memorial. Vandals also spray-painted the Lincoln Memorial. Monuments to the Confederacy are being removed from public spaces across the country as debate heats up over their presence and meaning in this charged political climate. Through it all, Trump has stuck by his most loyal supporters - the so-called "alt-right" conglomeration of white supremacists - while laying equal blame for violence and divisiveness at the feet of those who oppose them.

And those are just some of the national problems we face. I haven't even had time to delve into escalating tensions with North Korea, Trump's calls for a renegotiation of NAFTA, his continued attacks on Senators who refuse to kick over twenty million people off of their insurance plans, the ongoing Russia investigation, and another terrorist van attack - this time in Barcelona. All of that deserves its own attention. And yet, here I am, learning something new and disturbing every few hours about the state of our nation. The latest of these revelations was that police refused to protect a Charlottesville synagogue from armed neo-Nazis who stood outside with automatic rifles shouting Nazi slogans during Saturday morning services.

Of all the discussions happening nationally in the wake of Charlottesville, I am most mesmerized/horrified by the fact that some of this stuff is still up for debate at all. In the past week in Facebook conversations with friends of friends, I have been appalled to learn that some people confuse non-violence with inaction; that others think showing neo-Nazis respect will encourage them to change their ways; and that even more don't understand the difference between memory and honor. Here is a sampling of some of those conversations.

Ignore Nazis and they'll go away vs. Let's punch Nazis in the face. 
Should we punch Nazis? How can we best act in the face of injustice? When does turning the other cheek or ignoring the problem cross the line into condoning it or becoming a bystander?

Ten Of The Best Times That Someone Punched A Nazi In Comics is just one of many examples in our popular culture (expressions of our society's values and moral compass) that documents our need to meet action with action. It strikes me as proof that we believe action is necessary for good to prevail over evil. If violence begets violence, then it is a perfectly natural reaction to meet a white supremacist's aggression and violence with like means (i.e. punching). It might not be the most effective way of defeating them in real life and it is probably not the safest idea, but I think the instinct to punch them comes from a feeling that anything less will inadequately display our disgust for them and their ideas.

What differentiates good people from white supremacists is our ability to measure that reaction - to recognize it as a base instinct that might be momentarily satisfying, but ultimately counterproductive. And the question is: Where do we go from there? How do we channel that desire to punch, to take action, into something constructive?

One solution that was offered was to ignore the white supremacists, but it is disingenuous to suggest that we ignore the problem and do nothing, as if inaction is the same as non-violent protest. Martin Luther King, Jr. marched, Gandhi went on a hunger strike, Heschel "prayed with his feet [paraphrased]." And each of these heroes of non-violence also used language as an outlet - inspiring change not only through action, but also through words.

The ability to articulate a message is fundamental to changing minds. Finding words to express the sorrow, disgust, and fear that these terrorists instill in me is a great challenge, but giving voice to those feelings is also incredibly empowering and ultimately very satisfying. Being able to name something, to identify it, and to share your feelings with others keeps us from bottling up the hate and rage until it boils over into violence. Naming something for what it is also limits its power, which is why Trump's refusal to call out white supremacy in his reactions to Charlottesville is so infuriating.
"I don't speak because I have the power to speak; I speak because I don't have the power to remain silent" -Rabbi A.Y. Kook
That said, language has limits. Sometimes I do not have words to describe the depth of a feeling, try as I might to do so. And when that happens, I look at pictures of Captain America punching Hitler as an outlet for a rage with no name and a feeling that I can't do enough, no matter how many words I spill into the vastness of the internet, how much I donate to anti-Nazi causes, or how many rallies I attend. People have limits.

So, what can we do when language fails, when violence is wrong, but the need to act remains? I'm sorry to say that I don't have an answer, but I know that we must find one, because Judaism requires that we meet oppression and injustice with action. As Elie Wiesel said, "We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented."

Everyone deserves respect, even Nazis vs. No, not Nazis.
Someone actually said to me online, "Punching people doesn't diffuse or eliminate hate. Showing respect does." 

I said this when Trump was elected and I will say it again: respect must be earned. I don't respect white supremacists. Their ideas and actions are morally reprehensible. Anyone who wants to see the decimation of entire races and religions has not earned respect or a place in any meaningful dialogue. Showing respect to white supremacists will not diffuse or eliminate their deep-seated hatred and might give them the false notion that their hate is a respectable, acceptable position to hold.

There is value (historically, culturally, etc) to keeping Confederate monuments in public spaces vs. It's long overdue that we remove these monuments from public places of honor.
In a moment of weakness, the Israelites sinned against God by building a golden calf and ascribing to it a history of freedom and a relationship of guardianship that was rightfully God's. They prayed to the calf and held it up as their new god. Moses, upon seeing this shameful display, did not equivocate. He did not say, "I see the value you have imbued in this object," or attempt to explain away their actions as the result of the people's fear and uncertainty at his long absence. He did not say, "There is blame on many sides; both the calf-worshipers and God were equally wrong." He did not insist that we keep the calf intact and prominently display it as a reminder of our "history" and the "cultural legacy" of people who turned their backs on the most fundamental belief of our young religion. No! He melted it down, ground it into dust, and scattered it in the water.

In a series of Tweets today, Trump ranted about the increasingly "foolish" removal of the "beautiful statues and monuments" of the Confederacy, which are "the history and culture of our great country" and which he claimed will be "greatly missed and never able to be comparably replaced."

Here is what we "learn" from a "beautiful" statue of Robert E. Lee in a public park. That traitors to our nation deserve to be honored and venerated. That the racist goals of erecting these statues (largely in the 1880s-1910s to reinforce Jim Crow and segregation and 1950s-60s in direct opposition to the Civil Rights Movement) are not repugnant to our society today. That this particular "history and culture of our great country" is the history and culture we want to hold up as "great." That neo-Nazis and the KKK deserve to be respected in the national debate about who we are and for what we stand.

If we want to learn from these statues, then they should be in a museum where those meanings can be explored and contextualized. They don't belong in public places.

We should never bring up Hitler lightly, but I do think that it is an apt comparison in this instance. Maggie Penman put it best: "To equate Robert E. Lee with Hitler would be lazy, and bad history. Hitler's name is invoked too casually, and too often. But since the white supremacists protesting the removal of Lee's statue in Charlottesville brandished swastikas, and openly made the Nazi salute, the connection to 1930s Germany was invited by the marchers themselves." Germany remembers the history of WWII without statues of Hitler, because they recognize that statues of mass murderers and war criminals are not appropriate or necessary to historical memory.

When we talk about preserving shameful parts of our history, we have to recognize a difference between remembering and honoring. These statues and monuments to Confederate generals were erected as part of a revisionist history that sought to glorify traitors to our nation. Recognizing and remembering the racism that spawned these statues is the history we should be remembering and in light of that history, we have to reject the continued veneration of people who sought to destroy our country.

It is not only history that should concern us, but our future too. By leaving these symbols of hate and oppression in public, we leave present and future white supremacists with the misconception that their ideology is a welcome and valuable part of America. These symbols of hate are fodder for budding white supremacists, like Dylan Roof, who see the Confederate flag and other "lost cause" Confederate symbols as an invitation to continue that violence and oppression today.

It's long past time to take these monuments down. Put them in museums with the proper educational materials to contextualize them and remove the sense of honor they hold, or, like the golden calf, let's melt them down and grind them to dust until all that's left of them is the memory of regret at ever having created and deified them in the first place.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

A rhetorical question

​In November, just days after the election, I got in a Facebook-friendship-ending argument with my uncle about fear in the age of Trump. 

The argument spanned many topics, but for the bulk of it, I argued that the millions who voted against Trump (myself included) had legitimate fears. These fears were based on his campaign rhetoric that attacked, among others, women, minorities, immigrants, LGBTQ individuals, people with disabilities, Muslims, and Jews, while dog whistling to the scum of our society, and based on history (as a history major who focused domestically on the Civil War and internationally on WWII, I know a thing or two about what happens when hate is given power).

The fears I confessed from my heart were reduced by my uncle to "liberal talking points," and he assured me that, "None of what you and millions of your like minded people think will happen will actually happen."

I unfriended him for many reasons (not all political), which just came to a head in this argument. I was tired of being belittled and devalued, because of my age and gender, as if my experiences as a millennial Jewish woman counted for nothing if they did not lead to the same life conclusions as a white Catholic baby boomer. I was tired of having my education treated as if I'd been brainwashed. And I was tired of talking to a brick wall who, for all his expressions of love for his family, somehow thought that a movement based on hate and resentment would make America great.

At the time, just days after the election, from my grief and despair, I offered this tiny shred of something-like-hope. I would not (and could not) expect better of Trump than he had proved he was capable of, but I suggested that he could (the onus being fully on him) attempt to rebuild the bridges he had burned with over half the country.

In that time, he has built bridges only with dictators and white supremacists. My fears and the fears of millions proved not to be "liberal talking points." They have come to pass.

Photo from Politico
There are Nazis in the streets of Charlottesville. Emboldened by a president who espouses so many of their views and refuses to condemn them, they descended on Virginia wearing Hitler quotes on their t-shirts, waving Confederate flags, and brandishing torches, proposing to take our country from us.

Their definition of American greatness is at odds with America. Their voice is not one of "many sides" to count in the debate about who we are; it is not even a choice. Our ideals, as expressed in our founding documents, in our songs, speeches, and poems, are not hatred, xenophobia, and violence, but life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, the great American melting pot (or salad bowl), a place to breathe free, where we offer liberty and justice for all. Any "side" that rejects these fundamental ideals has no place in our national conversation and deserves no voice in shaping our national identity. The fact that the president offers them a seat at the table and a voice is embarrassing, disgraceful, and horrific.

And, so, I have a rhetorical question for my uncle, who is not a bad person at heart: "Is this the America you wanted?"

Monday, June 5, 2017

Quote of the Week: God is Everywhere

"God is everywhere save in arrogance." -Abraham Joshua Heschel, Man is Not Alone

Monday, May 29, 2017

Omer 2017 Day 49: Wanna Be That Song

Day 49: Malchut in Malchut, Leadership in Leadership
Wanna Be That Song by Brett Eldridge

Wanna be those words that fill you up
Pull your windows down and keeps you young
Makes you believe you're right where you belong
I wanna be that song

If you didn't already know, Brett Eldridge is a huge Cubs fan, which only makes me love this song and the video more, but that's not the point today.

Today is the final day of the Omer! We made it! It is a good day for reflection, to look back on what we've learned over the past seven weeks. ​Each of these songs hopefully taught us something about ourselves and how we can make our interactions with the world more positive and fulfilling. Today, as we bring another period of the Omer to a close with leadership in leadership, let's all commit to living out some of those lessons. Be a song that makes someone else's day.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Omer 2017 Day 48: Bright Side of the Road

Day 48: Yesod in Malchut, Connection in Leadership
Bright Side of the Road by Van Morrison

And time seems to go by so fast
In the twinkling of an eye
Let's enjoy it while we can (let's enjoy it while we can)
Help me sing my song (help me sing my song)

Can you believe we're almost done counting the Omer? Time really does go by fast!

It took me 48 days, but I've finally worked some Van Morrison into the Omer. The lesson today is that the connections you make are important. Professionally, use your contacts to help you get ahead. Personally, reach out to your friends and family to help you celebrate the good times in life. Don't let time get away from you without making those connections and savoring those moments.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Omer 2017 Day 47: The Times Are a-Changin'

Day 47: Hod in Malchut, Glory/Humility in Leadership
The Times Are a-Changin' by Bob Dylan

For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin'.

Being a leader is a source of great pride and glory, but also of humility. Leaders can have awesome decision-making power, but also great responsibility to act in the best interests of the people they lead. And, of course, as times change, leadership opportunities change.  So, if you're on top of the world today, it is humbling to remember that your time in charge is fleeting. For those who have not quite made it into leadership roles yet, keep working hard, so that you're ready to lead when your time comes.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Omer 2017 Day 46: Freedom

Day 46: Netzach in Malchut, Endurance/Victory in Leadership
Freedom by Beyonce featuring Kendrick Lamar

I break chains all by myself
Won't let my freedom rot in hell
Hey! I'ma keep running
'Cause a winner don't quit on themselves

Don't quit when something is difficult.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Omer 2017 Day 45: Yeled Shel Aba

Day 45: Tiferet in Malchut, Balance in Leadership
ילד של אבא by מוקי
Yeled Shel Aba (Father's Son) by Mooki

This Hebrew song is a written from a father to his son. In it, the father encourages his son to explore and grow without fear of failure, while also reassuring him that no matter what, he will always be there when needed. It is a lesson in balance in leadership - knowing when to provide guidance and when to step back.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Omer 2017 Day 44: Hey Leonardo

Day 44: Gevurah in Malchut, Bravery in Leadership
Hey Leonardo (She Likes Me for Me) by Blessid Union of Souls

The things that we're afraid of
are gonna show us what we're made of in the end

This song is full of dated pop culture references that 80s babies like me love, but between references to Robert Redford and pre-Boardwalk Empire Steve Buscemi, is this lyric with some actual enduring substance. Fear can hold us back, but when we face those fears, we prove what we can do and push our boundaries.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Omer 2017 Day 43: Kindly Deeds

Day 43: Chesed in Malchut, Kindness in Leadership
Kindly Deeds Done for Free by The Simpsons' parody band, AD/BC

Kindly deeds
Done for free

Maimonides taught that there are 8 levels of tzedakah or charity:
8. When donations are given grudgingly.
7. When one gives less than one should, but does so cheerfully.
6. When one gives directly to the poor upon being asked.
5. When one gives directly to the poor without being asked.
4. Donations when the recipient is aware of the donor's identity, but the donor still doesn't know the specific identity of the recipient.
3. Donations when the donor is aware to whom the charity is being given, but the recipient is unaware of the source.
2. Giving assistance in such a way that the giver and recipient are unknown to each other. Communal funds, administered by responsible people are also in this category.
1. The highest form of charity is to help sustain a person before they become impoverished by offering a substantial gift in a dignified manner, or by extending a suitable loan, or by helping them to find employment or establish themselves in business so as to make it unnecessary for them to become dependent on others.

Giving on any level is a mitzvah, whether one gives grudgingly or less than one could, or one is in the position to provide steady employment or a small business start-up loan. The point is really to strive to do more, to give more, for those in need.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Omer 2017 Day 42: Put Your Hearts Up

Day 42: Malchut in Yesod, Leadership in Connection
Put Your Hearts Up by Ariana Grande

If we put our heads together
we can do anything

As I count day 42 tonight, I am watching news reports of the bombing of an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England. I can think of no better way to honor the victims of this terrible attack than to dedicate this day to Grande's music. This is a song from her earlier days, back in 2011. In the wake of this attack, may we all come together and become leaders against hate and violence.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Omer 2017 Day 41: Southern Comfort Zone

Day 41: Yesod in Yesod, Foundation in Connection
Southern Comfort Zone by Brad Paisley

And I miss my Tennessee home
I can see the ways that I've grown
I can't see this world unless I go
Outside my Southern Comfort Zone...
...I have since become a drifter
And I just can't wait to pack
Cause I know the road I leave on
It will always bring me back

Home is comfortable because it's what we know and there is security in having a comfortable place to return to, but as Brad Paisley points out, it is also important to explore the unknown. It is through travel and exploration that we learn and grow and, while where you come from will inevitably affect the lens through which you view the world, getting out of our comfort zones can also give us a new understanding of ourselves and the places we call home.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Omer 2017 Day 40: Hava Nagila

Day 40: Hod in Yesod, Glory in Connection
Hava Nagila

Hava nagila, hava nagila
Hava nagila ve-nismeha
Let us rejoice, let us rejoice
Let us rejoice and be glad

Hava Nagila began as a wordless Hasidic melody in Eastern Europe and was brought to Israel by early Zionist settlers. Lyrics based on Psalms were added in 1918 to celebrate the British army's defeat of the Turks. It has become a song of celebration and glory, connecting Jewish history across continents and over centuries, and is included in almost all joyous Jewish occasions.

When Marc and I were planning our wedding, our DJ had ten different recordings of this song for us to choose from for the chair dance. We chose the longest version that he had on file and after the terrifying exhilaration of being hoisted onto chairs, we danced the rest of the song in circles around the dance floor with all of our friends and family.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Omer 2017 Day 39: With A Little Help From My Friends

Day 39: Netzach in Yesod, Endurance in Connection
With A Little Help From My Friends by The Beatles

I get by with a little help from my friends

Shabbat Shalom! Take time today to recognize the friends who help you get through a hectic work week.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Omer 2017 Day 38: The Rainbow Connection

Day 38: Tiferet in Yesod, Beauty in Connection
The Rainbow Connection by Kermit the Frog

Someday we'll find it
The rainbow connection
The lovers, the dreamers, and me

Cherry Blossoms
May got off to a bizarre start in DC. I'm not talking about the news, which is a topic for a different blog post, but the weather. The month started with a cold snap that felt more like March and then days of non-stop rain that would have been better suited to April. Now, the weather has finally caught up with the season here and DC, with its many colorful early-Spring blooms that give way to lush late-Spring greenery, is showing its true beauty. It amazes me every Spring just how green this whole region is. It's probably because of all that humidity that I spend the whole summer cursing.

Still, today I'm thinking about the weather as it relates to beauty in connection and I have to share a conversation I had last month with my mother-in-law. She lives in Chicago and, because of the science (or magic) of weather patterns, their weather often makes its way to us after a day or two. So, when DC had these gorgeous low-humidity 70-degree days in late April, I was talking to my mother-in-law about the house we were about to put a down payment on and a movie she had recently seen. During that conversation, I remarked about the great weather we'd been having and she replied that Chicago had been terrible; it had been in the 30s and 40s and rainy all week. "That's too bad!" I said, knowing that her weather would eventually get here, but still enjoying sunshine and a light breeze. Sure enough, after a couple of days, all that cold and rain came to DC. So, while I live 700 miles from my home city, I am still connected to it through my family and friends who still live there and through the weather (sometimes rainy, sometimes beautiful) that hits there and then here.

Constitution Gardens

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Omer 2017 Day 37: New Romantics

Day 37: Gevurah in Yesod, Strength in Foundation
New Romantics by Taylor Swift

Cause, baby, I could build a castle
Out of all the bricks they threw at me

What are you made of? Today, try to take the negativity and criticism thrown your way and turn it into something positive.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Omer 2017 Day 36: Go Cubs Go

Day 36: Chesed in Yesod, Loving-Kindness in Connection
Go Cubs Go by Steve Goodman

Go Cubs Go
Go Cubs Go
Hey Chicago, what d'you say?
The Cubs are gonna win today

When I was planning out this blog last year, the Cubs had not yet won the World Series and, while I begin every baseball season with sincere belief in my Cubbies, I couldn't bring myself to pre-write a blog post assuming that we would be World Series Champions. It had gone wrong too many times before. Instead, I assigned this song to chesed in netzach, love in victory, on day 22 and dreamed of the day when my undying love for the Cubs would be rewarded with the ultimate W.

And then they won! So I scrapped my blog post (well, I posted it early), chose a Frank Sinatra song for day 22 that better embodied love in endurance, and moved on. But tomorrow morning will mark four months since my grandpa passed away and he was the world's biggest Cubs fan, so today, in his memory, I give you Go Cubs Go for the 36th day of the Omer.

To understand how this song relates to loving-kindness in connection, you have to know a few things about my grandpa. First, he was married for 62 years, raised four daughters, and had ten grandchildren and five great-grandchildren; he built and was surrounded by a loving family. At 92 years old, he had lived through many things: the Depression, WWII, the discovery of Pluto, the invention of the microwave, and 91 straight years of World Series disappointments. But still, he watched every Cubs game without fail his whole life. My other grandpa used to swear that he couldn't die until the Cubs won the World Series, but he missed it by four years. So when my mom called on January 17, 2017, to tell me that my grandpa had died, it was no surprise that she added, "At least he got to see the Cubs win." At the wake, my grandma propped his Cubs hat next to him in the casket and she made sure that he was buried in the Cubs World Series shirt (worn under his suit) that my cousin Richie had bought him just a couple months before.

Go Cubs Go represents the love of family, celebrating victories with friends, and the eternal hope for a brighter future.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Omer 2017 Day 35: Run the World

Day 35: Malchut in Hod, Leadership in Majesty
Run the World by Beyonce

Who run the world?

Queen Bey knows what's up.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Omer 2017 Day 34: Birdhouse in Your Soul

Day 34: Yesod in Hod, Connection in Glory
Birdhouse in Your Soul by They Might Be Giants

Blue canary in the outlet by the light switch
Who watches over you
Make a little birdhouse in your soul
And while you're at it
Keep the nightlight on inside the
Birdhouse in your soul

This song is about a nightlight in the shape of a blue canary that watches over you while you sleep, protecting you from darkness. By "building a birdhouse in your soul" with a light of your own, you can carry that protection with you out into the world and let it shine for others.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Omer 2017 Day 33: Maybe I'm Amazed

Day 33: Hod in Hod, Glory in Humility
Maybe I'm Amazed by Paul McCartney

Maybe I'm a man and maybe I'm a lonely man
Who's in the middle of something
That he doesn't really understand

Today is a good day to offer your knowledge and insights to help solve a problem or improve a situation. It is also a good day to admit that you don't know everything and ask for help when you need it.

Today is also Lag B'Omer. Light a bonfire and celebrate!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Omer 2017 Day 32: Every Mile a Memory

Day 32: Netzach in Hod, Endurance in Humility
Every Mile a Memory by Dierks Bentley

Funny how no matter where I run
'Round every bend I only see
Just how far I haven't come

In many ways, I've come so far from the shy girl I was growing up in Chicago. When I tell stories today about how I used to leave sleepovers in the middle of the night with crippling anxiety, made excuses to avoid social events, and couldn't even manage day camp without feeling homesick, people don't believe me, but it's true. It took a lot of work for me to become an outgoing, semi-confident woman and I am proud of the strides I have made toward becoming the person I want to be, but today I recognize that there is still work to be done.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Omer 2017 Day 31: What Makes You Beautiful

Day 31: Tiferet in Hod, Beauty in Humility
What Makes You Beautiful by One Direction

You don't know, oh oh,
You don't know you're beautiful, oh oh,
That's what makes you beautiful.

You are beautiful. Just be yourself.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Omer 2017 Day 30: Parachute

Day 30: Gevurah in Hod, Strength/Bravery in Majesty/Humility
Parachute by Chris Stapleton

Falling feels like flying til you hit the ground
Say the word and I'll be there for you
Baby, I will be your parachute

I've never been sky diving and I don't have any intention of ever jumping out of a plane, but I imagine that first step would mimic hod, part exhilarating and part terrifying, a little majestic as you float toward earth and a little humbling to entrust your life to a piece of nylon on your back, especially as the earth beneath you looms larger the further you fall.

I think it's probably the same feeling you get whenever you embark on something that is both exciting and scary. Will you succeed or fail? Are the risks worth the reward? It takes a lot of bravery to try something new and we shouldn't let fear hold us back from a new challenge. Be smart about your next undertaking - pack a parachute, surround yourself with friends who will help you through it - but whether it is a majestic success or a humbling failure, the important thing is to try.

Back to Day 29 | Jump to Day 31

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Omer 2017 Day 29: Always Love

Day 29: Chesed in Hod, Loving-Kindness in Humility
Always Love by Nada Surf

I never learned enough
To listen to the voice that told me
Always love; Hate will get you every time
Always love; Don't wait til the finish line

What lessons do you wish you had learned earlier in life? What advice do you wish you had heeded sooner?

Monday, May 8, 2017

Omer 2017 Day 28: Arlington

Day 28: Malchut in Netzach, Leadership in Eternity
Arlington by Trace Adkins

Arlington Cemetery is one of the most humbling places in the United States. More than 300,000 veterans are buried there, as are Presidents Taft and Kennedy, 12 Supreme Court Justices, and 19 astronauts.

It is moving to see so many rows of small white headstones, each representing a leader, a hero, a person who dedicated his or her life to helping others.

Back to Day 27 | Jump to Day 29

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Omer 2017 Day 27: Chelsea Dagger

Day 27: Yesod in Netzach, Connection in Victory
Chelsea Dagger by The Fratellis

This is the song that the Chicago Blackhawks play when they score a goal and when they win a game. It is now irrevocably connected to victory for me, even though the Predators knocked them out of the playoffs this season.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Omer 2017 Day 26: Israeli Caves

Day 26: Hod in Netzach, Splendor/Humility in Eternity
Israeli Caves by Maps & Atlases

When you look out on the Midwest plain
Do you realize the moon is still the same?
That rose above Israeli caves
The day the words you praised were written

There is splendor and also deep humility to be gained in recognizing the eternity that is all around us every day (and night). Plus, the little hipster kid in this video is adorable.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Omer 2017 Day 25: All I Do Is Win

Day 25: Netzach in Netzach, Victory in Victory
All I Do Is Win by DJ Khaled

All I do is win, win, win, no matter what

This song speaks for itself. May you have the confidence today to try something new and succeed. Shabbat Shalom.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Omer 2017 Day 24: The General

Day 24: Tiferet in Netzach, Compassion in Victory
The General by Dispatch

I have seen the other
and I have discovered
that this fight is not worth fighting
and I've seen their mothers
and I will no other
to follow me where I'm going
So take a shower and shine your shoes
You've got no time to lose
You are young men, you must be living
Go now, you are forgiven

Last year, on day 24, I chose Sisera's mother to represent tiferet in netzach. The image of her watching the road for her son's triumphant return, not knowing that he had been killed humanizes his death and continues to cause us to think about the costs of war. This song not only recognizes humanity in the enemy, but the loss of youth and innocence for our own troops as well. How can we show compassion for "the other" today and appreciation for our troops and veterans who give up so much to keep us safe?