Dear Jonah, Micah, and Toby,
I remember the day eight years ago when the older two of you walked into the kitchen to find me crying while reading the newspaper. You had never seen me cry before, and you asked why I was crying, and I told you it was because something happened that I never thought would happen in my lifetime: America elected a black man President. I was so proud of our country then, so grateful to witness that day, so optimistic about what it meant for you and for us all.
Last night and this morning I find myself crying a different kind of tears. It feels like everything that I felt that night eight years ago has been inverted, turned upside down and inside out. We have lived through another moment in history, another moment I never thought would happen in my lifetime: America elected Ahashverosh as President. This morning I am so deeply fearful for America, for the world, for the Jewish people, for all of us, for you.
And I find myself wondering what to tell you. Toby, you turn 4 years old tomorrow. And you asked me yesterday, "Is Donald Trump a bad guy?" And I hedged, because I knew that this was a possibility, that he could actually win, even if I didn't want to admit it. And how can I raise a child in a country where I have to honestly say, yes, the President a bad man, a violent man, an unthinking man, a man I would never want you to emulate?
Jonah and Micah, as you left for school this morning, for the first time in my life I wondered whether it was a good idea for you to wear kippot outside. On this anniversary of Kristallnacht, I found myself, for the first time, feeling that Jews are truly not safe in America, that we will ultimately become targets of populist violence. How I do I protect you today?
Mama and I both woke up early this morning, after a night of little sleep. And we turned to each other and asked, What do we do? I think the answer is actually in the first part of that sentence: We turn to each other. Because in each other we can find strength, and in each other we can find faith.
I find myself this morning drawing strength from the teaching of my rebbe, Yitz Greenberg. Yitz has always been a relentless optimist, even as has seen reality more accurately than anyone else. Yitz taught me, and many other people, that at the moments when God seems to be most hidden, God is actually most present--but we have to look harder. I feel like this is one of those moments: we have to look harder than we have before, and God is there. God is with us in our fear, God is with us in our mourning. And God calls to us to do the things that God does: comfort those in pain, feed those who are hungry, heal those who are sick, make whole those who are broken.
I fear the next four years will be dark times. And I fear the damage that will be done in those four years will be deep and lasting. But our ancestors have always found the strength to see light in the darkness, and to persevere. That takes faith. I have faith in you, as I hope you have faith in me. I have faith because we are images of God.
You have been born into a time when we have seen obvious manifestations of those images. Now we are entering a time when those images may be more hidden, when they will undoubtedly be challenged. But they are there, they are resilient, and if we stick together, if we lift up and strengthen those images within us and within others, we too will bring about a brighter time.
I love you, and I'm with you.