Holidays, civility, and Big Bird

Holidays, civility, and Big Bird

They’re finally over.

The month of Tishrei is many things – exhilarating, thought-, tear- and then joy-provoking, if you’re lucky revelation-provoking as well. Again if you are lucky, it is filled with food, family, more food, friends, even more family, and an apparently unending supply of food. Even the dancing on Simchat Torah has to be extraordinarily exuberant to counteract all that food.

But now it’s time to move on and start the year in earnest.

Even the weather is prodding us. As if they could read a Jewish calendar, all of a sudden the sun, the wind, and the leaves have agreed that it’s a new season. There are no more Jewish holidays until Chanukah – although of course there is Thanksgiving, that lovely, Jewish-feeling celebration of family and nature’s bounty.

Luckily for us, we don’t have to try to figure out what season we have landed in. As we’ve stepped out of secular time for Jewish time, the world has gone on without us. Until now, we’ve been able to dip in and out of the outside world, but now we must face it full time and head-on. We must plunge entirely into the maelstrom that is this particularly ugly election season.

This newspaper will not take sides in any race this November. We are a community paper. We know that people of good will have very strong stands on each one of the races. We see our job as providing a place where opinions can be aired, differences made clear, and arguments advanced that might or might not change readers’ minds. We know that is the best service we possibly can provide.

We urge our readers to learn as much as you can about the candidates. To make that easier, in partnership with the Public Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey, the Jewish Standard is hosting a series of debates. Last Sunday, the Republican and the Democrat running in the 5th Congressional District both spoke; you can read about their differing ideas and agendas starting on page 16 of this week’s paper. On Sunday, the candidates in the 9th District will debate at Temple Sinai in Tenafly, and the four candidates for Bergen County freeholder will face off at Temple Avodat Shalom in River Edge. Everyone is invited.

Even beyond that, we urge all of our readers to remember that we are one community, and we will remain one community after the election is over. That will be true no matter who wins, no matter how the presidential debates come out, no matter what the man elected to be president feels about Big Bird.

If we have learned anything at all from the cycles of holidays we have just completed, it is that decency and civility toward each other are chief among the attributes on which we will be judged. We believe that, whether or not we believe in a God who does the judging; we know that we judge each other. This season, as the wind sharpens and nips and the leaves redden and fall and go brown and the heavy coats and scarves and gloves come out – as we face a marked lack of gentleness in the natural world around us – let us at least be more gentle with each other.