As we were celebrating the coming new year with a fancy meal and wine, Ruth Bader Ginsberg was dying. It is a terrible tragedy for our country, and a very inauspicious beginning of the Jewish year.
This is a strange Rosh HaShana. Services are on Zoom. Our fancy meal last night was just for the four of us - we usually celebrate with family and friends, but the coronavirus has taken that from us. Usually we celebrate the hope of a sweet coming year, but this year I am filled with existential dread and mourning.
Last night we learned the news as my wife was putting our son to bed. I was alone with my daughter and she wanted to know why I was crying. I told her that a very good woman, a Jewish woman, who was the best person in our government, had died. I don't think she understood what that meant, though she was pleased to know that a Jewish woman had been the best person in government. I did not want to burden a 7yo with the idea that an evil man would surely be nominated to replace her so I left that part out.
I have been doing a lot of genealogy work lately, and I think a lot about the reasons my ancestors left their homes and traveled to the United States. I wonder how they knew when it was time to leave, and how they gathered the strength to uproot themselves. Until recently this question has seemed one of academic and familial interest, but today it feels pressing and urgent. I wonder if this is the year my family and I will need to flee to another country for safety from a fascist maniac lifted to power by a corrupt and sycophantic government.
My friend Sam moved to Canada ten or fifteen years ago. He told his friends that he and his wife were leaving to 'flee the second American civil war'. At the time I thought he was being a little bit funny and a little bit hyperbolic. Now it feels prescient. We have been living through one of the darkest periods of American history and today it feels like it has grown a great deal darker. Should we be so lucky as to have a Biden/Harris presidency in January they will be saddled with a supreme court that has been engineered to be as evil as possible not to mention all of the other unspeakable crimes and damage that have occurred over the last three and a half years.
I do not have a great deal of hope that my wishes for the new year will come true. They are, in no particular order, as follows: A resounding victory for Biden and Harris, a humilating defeat for Moscow Mitch and his cronies, an end to the plague of the coronavirus, justice for all of those who have been abused and persecuted under this lawless regime, and a safe home for my family, wherever we may find ourselves.
No matter what happens, this will surely be a year of momentous changes for the country and the world. Those changes may plunge is deeper into darkness and despair, or they may show us the path to healing and a better nation. May it be the latter.