Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Today and Tomorrow - Hopes and Challenges

Shalom All,

It is a tired mantra these days, "Hope. Hope. Hope." The economy is terrible. Hope. People are losing their jobs and their homes. Hope. The world is full of war and strife. Hope. In the Jewish world, we have had scandal after scandal and Israel has just fought a highly unpopular war that brought protests to our doorsteps. Hope. Jew hatred is on the rise. Hope.

Hope? Yes, hope.

Today, in America a man has been sworn in as President who will have to face those difficulties, those challenges. This day, those problems may be set aside in celebration, but tomorrow...tomorrow they will remain before us. Today is a day that should bring multitudes together. We do not all agree about the politics for certain. Our solutions to those daunting problems are not the same as those of others. Yet, how can one not but feel a sense of hope, of dreams realized today, one day after celebrating what would have been the 80th birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Today, America has overcome race as a limiting factor to the Presidency. The leader of the Free World is a man who would not have been free even to vote in many states, much less to become elected, only decades ago. While Barack Obama's ancestors were not American slaves, he represents those whose ancestors were and for them, today there can be no happier moment. Today people of all races can look their children in the eyes and truly believe it when they say, "You can even be President some day."

Today, Republican, Independent, or Democrat, it matters not what political party to which you ascribe your support, this day America stands proud as a beacon of freedom and opportunity. That feeling is tangible. The joy is tangible. This day, America stands proud, not because of the man elected and sworn in, but because of the barriers broken and the fact that we as a people have lived up to the highest ideals of our nation, liberty and justice for all.

Tomorrow, we will realize that battles have been won, but the war rages on. Prejudice and discrimination are still there. Justice is hardly a universal truth. Hope does not negate reality. With tears of happiness perhaps in our eyes, or perhaps fear and trepidation, we will turn again as a nation to the difficulties ahead. Barack Obama is now the President of the United States of America. No longer is our hope that a man whose face does not look like those of other Presidents be given the chance. Today and tomorrow, our hope must be that this man will help us to overcome the challenges that face us.

Yes, hope, hope and a lot of hard work through difficult times ahead.

May his pledge come to fruition, "Yes we can," for us and for the generations ahead. We cannot afford to fail.


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