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  • Glenn Sonnenberg

Musings from the Bunker 9/28/20

Good morning,

Today is Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement. The period between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur are called the “Days of Awe.” It seems that for the last six months we have been living in some very prolonged days of awe…

Yom Kippur offers an opportunity to ask for forgiveness. So, here are a few of general application from me: Sorry for crowding your inbox, sorry for not responding to every email, sorry for at times (all times?) being such a raging pedant, sorry for any offensive remark or position I have taken.

The focus of atonement is not just acknowledgement of shortcomings, but in turning toward better behaviors. I would suggest that, as a society, we should pledge to be better by:

• Caring more about the environment and working to clean the water and air and use less fossil fuels

• Eating healthier and with less impact on the environment

• Trying to understand the “other side” in every debate

• Practicing greater civility toward each other

• Becoming better educated on the historic injustices in society and work toward change

• Encouraging everyone to become better educated on our system of government and our civic responsibilities

• Giving more to the important charitable institutions that serve our community

• Voting

• Accepting the results of elections

• Assuming when we speak to others with whom we disagree, we do so with the assumption of good faith and legitimate, principled disagreement, and not as bitter adversaries

• Wearing masks, staying outdoors as much as possible, and keeping more than six feet apart

• Pausing before sending that angry email or before reflexively responding in a harsh tone to someone with whom we may disagree

• Applying critical thinking skills to not only the far-fetched and conspiratorial claims in the news today, but in assessing and reevaluating our own views

I volunteered for a program this year to mentor two young men from underserved communities in their preparation for, and application to, college. They are two terrific kids. This week, when we were just chitchatting, one asked me about being Jewish. He said I was the first Jew he’d ever spoken with. Among the many questions he asked was a pretty straightforward one—“What do Jews believe?” My answer was that I thought our beliefs were consistent with the core beliefs of most religions. In relating what I think is the single most essential belief, I related the (no doubt apocryphal) story of Hillel. When he was mockingly asked to explain the entirety of the Torah while standing on one foot, he responded, “What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow man. The rest is commentary.” I think it’s a pretty simple lesson that in these fraught times often is ignored. We don’t seem to be treating people as nicely as we should be. Wouldn’t it be something if we could all put in practice this fairly simple—yet critical—lesson in the coming year.

That’s enough for now. Wishing all the Jews an easy fast and all the non-Jews an enjoyable day of less traffic and faster deliveries from Door Dash (at least until Sundown!).

Warm regards,


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