We are all linked to the places from which we came, though some of us have moved very far from them. My relationship to the different rabbis whose sermons I have not just heard, but heard intently over more than 50 years, would make a very difficult narrative--not quite as difficult as a narrative about my father and me, but up there. I now attend a synagogue in New York with my children and my grandson. I love the synagogue; I do not love the rabbis, for I do not really know them personally. More to the point, I do not love their sermons. Two years ago, Yom Kippur, the rabbi parsed a banal speech by Bella Abzug, the old and (if truth be told) faithful red mama, as if it were a sacred text. Feh. One of this congregation's ingenuous innovations to the routine confessional of sins ("We lie. We cheat ...") in the prayer book is the following: "We rush towards war and crawl to peace." This is a lie! Why do I still pray with this assembly? Because, aside from the offending "hip" politics of the rabbis, there is an all-embracing warmth that suffuses the fold. There is beautiful music. The service is almost all in Hebrew. Still, my then-not-quite-four-year-old grandson said to me on the way out, "I have never felt closer to God." Dayenu, as we say on Passover: "It is sufficient." Or, as one of the songs of the tradition known to almost every Jew puts it, Hinay ma tov: "How good it is for brothers to sit together."Peretz also makes clear later in the essay his negative views of the Clinton campaign, well-expressed impressions that we agree with:
But there is a new game in town, and it is finding men and women for Obama to repudiate. I know about political campaigns and how they attract both fossils and novices. A new candidate lures more of both than a veteran. Indeed, if you look at Clinton's campaign, you'll find that there are almost no fresh faces--and, thus, no fresh minds--in the coterie; and it is a coterie. It is a closed and nasty circle which learned its bad habits from Bill. That's why it is making one mistake after another. The rule is: Never be gracious if you have the chance to be vicious. The non plus ultra of this style was the still greedy ex-president suggesting that, while his wife loved her country, Obama didn't love his.Here is the link.