Opinions | In Trump’s America, where is your line in the sand

Much has been written and said since the election on Nov. 8. I’ve read and I’ve listened and now I’ve decided to write something. It’s an addendum to the Ethical Will that I’ve written for my children — a statement of my deeply held values. Here’s what I am adding that I hope my children will read and remember.

I have no problem with people voting for a transformational change in our country. That was one clear message of Donald Trump’s election. It’s a message I hope all Americans have heard and begun to think about deeply; a message that when more of us are able to accept and understand it, we may be able to move beyond the nasty nature of this historic election.

However, I do have grave concerns about the man who will become president in a very short amount of time. His election scares me because of who he has shown himself to be the last year during the campaign season. His election scares me because of what he “promised” to do and that I fear he may try to do. His message of hate and scapegoating is not the change most people who voted for him desire.

During the next four years I anticipate that I will often find myself demonstrating against what he is trying to do. I hope I am wrong about what I expect to see happen, but I do not trust a person who has said and done what he has said and done in order to be elected.

I urge you my children, in your lives, to make sure that you hold people accountable for what they say as well as what they do. Speak up and protest when what they want to do goes against the values that you hold to be sacred. They may be Jewish values, American values or your personal values that you trust to be true. Don’t compromise those values, because if you do, you will be letting down all that is sacred and important, all that you stand for.

My intention is that I will be out demonstrating if he attempts to do things such as:

• Barring Muslims from entering the country

• Implementing aggressive surveillance programs targeting Muslims

• Trying to deport undocumented immigrants

• Restricting a woman’s right to an abortion

• Re-authorizing waterboarding and other torture

• Restricting freedom of expression.

• Restricting/persecuting LGBTQ people in any way

• Defunding Planned Parenthood.

• Gutting the United States’ leadership on climate change.

And, certainly, there may be some others that I have missed.

I will not stand idly by when someone is about to trample on basic American values and human rights or the Jewish value that we are all created in God’s Image. We are all descendants of Adam and Eve. Every human being is our brother or sister — it’s something we cannot allow ourselves to forget.

To stand idly by and allow anyone to suffer — and real suffering is what is at stake — at the hands of someone who seeks to be a modern-day pharaoh is not what I have been called upon to do in my life, what I want my life to stand for.

Too often in Jewish history we have suffered at the hands of the pharaohs of the world. In a free country like the United States, we have the obligation to be there for our fellow human beings, whatever their background or identity. Remember how the prophets, without fear, spoke out against the suffering in their day. Their words must inspire us today whenever and wherever we see suffering.

I once heard Elie Wiesel say at a lecture: “Jews are witnesses to the world that the impossible is possible.” We each have an obligation to continue to be ready to be those kinds of witnesses.

Rabbi Marvin Goodman
is the executive director of the Board of Rabbis of Northern California.