Gathering for Our Democracy

A statement by Rabbi Amy Schwartzman

January 6, 2021

Erev tov, Good evening.

Thank you for joining us on this devastating night following the violence in our Nation’s Capital. The shocking assault each one of us witnessed, was an attack not only on our Capital building, but on our democracy and our country – the America we love, the America we support, the America we believe in, the America that welcomed to its magnificent shores many of our families, who fled other countries filled with violence and corruption.

Today was a dark day for all of us. Tears filled my eyes as I watched rioters smash the windows of the Senate, scale the walls of the House, rage against our lawmakers as they huddled, trapped in the fear, in one of our most sacred places. I am devastated, but sadly not surprised, to see my fellow citizens desecrate the symbol of our republic and challenge the just and fair system created by our founders and upheld through every generation with integrity. The fact that today’s events were encouraged by the President of the United States who has refused to accept his electoral loss is equally terrifying and heartbreaking. We must understand that our democracy is only as strong as the people willing to abide by its laws and norms.

Temple Rodef Shalom is a diverse community. We are religiously diverse with our members coming from many Movements of Judaism and many other religious traditions as well. We are diverse in our political views – we are republicans, we are democrats and independents. We have many different feelings about Israel, about Hebrew, about Passover, about the music that enriches so much of what we do.

But we are united by more than what divides us. We all want to see our tradition survive and thrive. We all embrace the role of our Judaism in making the world a better place. And, we all believe that America is a place where all of this can happen. It is not by accident that in America Judaism has blossomed, growing in numbers and in depth. America’s openness to all, all individuals, and all of their views, has been a blessing for our people.

Today we saw that blessing and those values attacked. Our nation has been wounded; but the injury will not prove fatal. We, her citizens, will come together to listen, to care, to heal. And as Jews, we can look to our tradition to support us, to ground us and to refocus our efforts on the justice, fairness, and peace that have always been at its core.

Tonight, we gather for prayer and song. Tonight, let us find comfort and solace in each other’s company.

And tomorrow, let us rise, renewed and reinvigorated, to begin the work of binding our nation’s wounds. Tomorrow, let us put our shoulders to the restoration of trust, the pursuit of justice and equity, and the rebuilding of “the road which alone leads to peace, liberty, and safety.”