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The Distate of our union

02/06/2020 10:43:58 AM


Rabbi Dan Dorsch

Whether you are a republican or a democrat, we should all feel embarrassed by the hyper-partisanship on full display at the State of the Union.
You may have enjoyed listening to the speech. Or, you may have absolutely hated it. But you all know me well enough to know that this column is not going to be a policy discussion: You and I can have that discussion over a drink at Suburban Tap.
Today, I feel embarrassed because as a proud American who strives to build a religious community where thoughtful people of all political beliefs and religious practices come together to do common good, it seems that Washington is now completely incapable of making that happen. With the notable exceptions of the reunion of Sergeant Williams with his family, and the mother with her beautiful daughter, there was no love in that room last night. What should have been a rare, unifying moment for our country has now turned into a television reality show spectacle with partisan name calling and ripping up speeches for the camera reel.
After I finished watching (I was concurrently trying to study my daily Talmud allotment), I couldn’t help but think about the oft quoted text from our tradition about the houses of Hillel and Shammai. The houses of Hillel and Shammai disagree 316 times about matters fundamental to Jewish religious practice. Their disagreements are pretty extensive: they can’t even agree on what direction to light Chanukah candles. Yet, the Talmud tells us that their children overcome these obstacles and marry one another. They are, after all, still Jews.
I haven’t been on an online dating app in nearly twenty years. But a 2017 study by the dating site eHarmony said that “politics are more on the minds of daters than ever.” OkCupid saw a jump in the importance of political preferences move from 27% in 2016, to 42% of its participants in 2018. The now seemingly defunct TrumpSingles app once claimed to have over 52,000 profiles.
Would the love of James Carville and Mary Matalin be possible in today’s climate? Can Republicans and Democrats who disagree learn to love one another, even if we may not like another?

The love we should have for our neighbors is disappearing. I am deeply worried about the future of our country. I know that I am not alone.

Tue, April 7 2020 13 Nisan 5780