Our father, Arthur (Avraham) Hertzberg, z”l, has been gone for more than 10 years. He was a rabbi, a historian, a prolific writer and scholar. He was also a liberal, a Democrat, a Zionist, and fiercely opinionated. But his opinions and politics were always grounded in his Jewish faith and in his deep devotion to social justice.
This is the man who in the 1960s worked for school integration and thundered against our involvement in Vietnam. He called for a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine almost immediately after the Six Day War in 1967. This is the man who spoke about politics from his pulpit on the High Holidays and “forbade” his congregants to vote for Richard Nixon. He mourned for months after 9/11.
He would have been one of the first and fiercest critics of Donald Trump and his hate-filled rhetoric.
Arthur Hertzberg would be horrified at the results of the vote on November 8. He would have wasted no time denouncing Donald Trump and the political and social vision he promotes. But how would Arthur Hertzberg proceed now that the unthinkable has happened?
Arthur Hertzberg would have come up fighting in the only way he knew, with his words and deeds. Consistent with his belief that Jewish law obligates us to fight injustice wherever we find it, he would have mobilized people and found funding. He would be at the very front and the emotional core of the opposition.
All human beings possess basic rights, even if they live in a political environment that does not protect them. So let us protest, in actions and writing. Let us support the things that will make this world better and tear down barriers between us, and not raise them up. Let’s start with restoring decency, civility, humility, mercy, honesty, due process, and ethical behavior.
Arthur Hertzberg would have expected and demanded it.
Linda Hertzberg, M.D., grew up in Englewood, studied at Yale and Stanford Universities, and is a physician anesthesiologist in private practice in California. Susan Hertzberg is a lifelong resident of Bergen County. She holds a B.A. and M.B.A. from Harvard and is a reimbursement manager and patient advocate for Genentech.