Monday, November 13, 2006

It has taken a week for the news from last week's election to sink in: we are going to have a Democratic Congress. I thought I'd be ecstatic if that happened, but now I find I'm just sort of tired and cautiously optimistic.

There is so much to do to repair the damage of the last five years, and I do not envy the new Congress that has to do it. The national budget is hemorrhaging of red ink, Iraq is Terrorism Central, we have (in the words of Colin Powell) "broken it and bought it," and still the bodies keep piling up in Baghdad. The rest of the Middle East is festering, our allies are looking at us sideways, wondering if we can be trusted, and we've repudiated the Geneva Conventions, for crying out loud. Meanwhile our ports are vulnerable to attack, but my eye drops never go near the airport without a Ziplock baggie.

The world hasn't felt this dangerous to me since I knelt with the rest of the second graders in the hall at Overbrook School, praying that God would keep Castro from firing off those nukes at Miami. The difference is that this time I feel like we've mostly done this to ourselves.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know: terrorists. Even there, I'm sorry, I am not going to let my government off the hook: why didn't we hunt down Al Qaeda when we had them cornered in Afghanistan? Why did we squander every bit of the international goodwill after 9/11 on this stupid mess in Iraq? Why was Iraq deemed more important than the real threat of nukes in Iran and North Korea? Why have we run this so-called "war" without any sacrifices at home, with tax cuts and lattes all around?

And why, why, why do we keep calling the terrorists "jihadists" which is, to their ears, like calling them "the guys in the white hats"? Do our news media and our government not understand that when we do that, we are affirming that yes, indeed, we're the Great Satan?


As for me, I am still praying. This time I'm praying for Nancy Pelosi and the other new leaders we've elected, praying that they will be wise and prudent and will not blow their precious political capital on dumb stuff like revenge. I'm praying that they will find a way out of these various messes. I'm praying that they can hang onto their souls while they do it.

In the meantime, I shall get back to my homework.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

It's Motsei Shabbat -- the evening after Shabbat -- and I am enjoying the afterglow of a lovely day. I attended services today at Temple Beth Sholom in San Leandro, CA. Behind the large 60's synagogue is the tiny "Little Shul" from the 1890's. It is a haimish [homey] little place, and I felt instantly comfortable there.

Rabbi Harry Manhoff presided, but most of the service was led by a young woman from the congregation, and the Torah was chanted by several adults from the shul's Hebrew program. Very impressive!

The rest of the day was spent eating good food and chatting with friends at home. What could be more perfect?