Each Friday night, Jews offer the priestly benediction over their children:
“May God bless you and keep you.
May God’s face shine upon you and be gracious to you;
May God treat you with kindness and grant you peace.”
We say these words every single week, without fail, no matter what is going on in our lives or in the greater world. Why? Because it is our sacred honor and duty to bestow blessings upon our children and to make a better world for them. They deserve a world that honors their sacredness and their potential. They deserve a peaceful world in which they can thrive.
This week, as I offer these words and prepare to read them from the Torah, I fear that we are not living up to our awesome responsibility. I wonder what are the “blessings” we are giving our kids today? Are we blessing them and keeping their interests in mind when pulling out from the Paris Climate agreement? Are we being gracious to them or to one another when truth and scientific data fall by the wayside because of megalomania, bravado and preconceived notions? Are we creating a world of peace when disagreements so often turn into attacks and death threats?
As I offer these words tonight, I do so as a prayer and as a rallying call. We must do better. We must teach them the importance of taking care of our planet, and demonstrate the myriad of ways in which we can do that (including demanding better from our government). We must be gracious to one another, and be willing to put egos and hurt feelings aside to do the hard work of creating a more accepting, nuanced, healthy, and perfect world. As my colleague, Jeffrey Courter reminded me this week “It’s amazing what we can accomplish when no one cares who gets credit.”
Shabbat Shalom. May next week be a better one for all of us.