As you may expect from a London-based Liberal rabbi, I live in a sheltered community – on and offline – where the majority of people seem to have voted neither for Brexit or Donald Trump. It’s a world of liberal, and Liberal Jewish, values.
Yet last week I awoke to the news that someone who shares none of those values has become president of the USA. Shock, upset and distress overflows on my social media platforms, interspersed with joy from the few Trump supporters on my feed.
But this was an election where millions of voters turned out. Analysis of Trump’s victory will go on for months if not years. But, as with Brexit, we can see that large swathes of people rejected the political establishments and economic systems.
There is, as we saw in Britain, a public anger that has led to people voting in ways which for many was shock at best and disgust at worst. The question for many of us is what next? Trump was democratically elected. Whatever our feelings, the time has come to be part of helping to rebuild a divided and fractured world.
As my colleague Rabbi Alexandra Wright so wisely said recently: “Now is not the time to either abandon our liberalism, nor our Judaism.”
While we honour the outcome of the election, we must once again stand by our values to fight bigotry, campaign for the rights of minorities and not stand silently by words and actions driven by hate and fear.
But most of all we must model ways of talking to each other from a place of care and love, a place that embraces diversity and differing opinions and a place that believes this world can be full of hope and unity. As it says in Psalms 133: “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers and sisters to dwell together in unity.”
I was brought up with the Jewish value of engaging in discussion to understand and be understood. This is the world I want for my children, one where we offer solutions to improve the lives of all and not one that tries to create division and fear.
Rabbi Charley Baginsky is Liberal Judaism’s director of strategy and partnerships
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