November 6, 2020

Hello out there!
We’re waiting, we’re waiting, we’re waiting... I was sure that by the time this missive went out—my note of good cheer/check-in/irreverent wandering of my mind (depending on how you view this weekly offering)—there would be a clearly elected president. Alas, as of this moment, the contentious, bitter, divisive election drags on with no final outcome. I pray democracy will prevail and leave us proud of the outcome— and the process.

This morning, I was reminded of a story of King Solomon—the famous tale from the biblical book, 1 Kings. King Solomon was credited for his wisdom in many situations… perhaps this one, most of all: There were two women who both claimed to be the mother of a baby. Remember this story? He asked for his sword and suggested that the baby be cut in half. He promised each woman half of the baby. One woman agreed to this arrangement; the other refused, insisting that the baby must live. King Solomon wisely determined that the woman who acted selflessly, and in the baby’s interest, must surely be the mother.  

I thought of this story as we have all been staring at the news incredulously. (How many times have you refreshed your browser to get the absolute latest results??) Our country has more or less been cut in half this week; no one protected the whole. We knew our society was fractured, even crumbling. But the pulling and tearing apart of the fabric of our society has now left us holding two halves of this democracy. How did it come to this? Regardless of the final winner, the title of Thomas Friedman’s Wednesday morning opinion piece rings loud and true: “There Was a Loser Last Night. It Was America.

It will soon be time for some serious healing. We must work to figure out how to lay a new foundation of trust in our country. How will we engage others without being blinded by judgment of their views? Or the votes they cast….? The work ahead feels daunting. As Pirkei Avot instructs, “Lo alecha hamlacha ligmor… v’lo ata ben chorin l’hibatel mimena…It is not up to you to finish the task, but neither are you free to give up.” Our Sages teach us that we are required to roll up our sleeves and get to work.

Meanwhile, though, we wait for the votes to be counted. The election has to come to an official end before we can begin to rebuild. During this stressful time, I highly recommend two distractions. (Push the tray of brownies you’ve been stress-nibbling off to the side-- just for a few minutes). 

  1. First, check out this article about Senator Harris’s footwear choices on the campaign trail. It’ll make you smile… and maybe even think.
  2. Then, bake a challah. The punching and kneading will do you some good. Not to mention: Shabbat is rapidly approaching and who doesn’t love a delicious warm challah?

Shabbat shalom!
Rabbi Jessica Zimmerman Graf

Kabbalat Shabbat
Friday, November 6, 6 pm

Rabbi Jessica Zimmerman Graf, Rabbi Abby Phelps and Cantor Toby Glaser lead Friday night Shabbat services.
Torah Study
Saturday, November 7, 9:15 am

Rabbi Abby Phelps will lead a conversation on this week's Torah portion.
Update on COVID-19 Vaccines
Dr. Jeremy Rassen and Dr. Jonathan Graf
Monday, November 16, 5 pm

Join us for a discussion of the latest COVID-19 news on vaccines.
Dr. Jeremy Rassen trained as an epidemiologist and computer scientist, and is currently Chief Science Officer at Aetion, Inc., where he uses data to examine the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 treatments and vaccines. He was formerly assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School — and somewhat before that, a graduate of Congregation Sherith Israel's religious school. Our host, Dr. Jonathan Graf is a professor of medicine at UCSF and a practicing internist and rheumatologist at Zuckerberg San Francisco General and UCSF Medical Centers.
Election Analysis with Senator Scott Wiener

This past Wednesday, State Senator Scott Wiener discussed ballot measures and election results with Rabbi Graf and Gordon Gladstone, plus a Q and A with participants from our community.