My son’s National History Day Documentary. Click on image to play.
As Donald Trump is inaugurated as our 45th President today, emotions are high. Many are excited and overjoyed. Many are devastated and fearful. One of President Trump’s greatest challenges will be to bring healing to our very divided nation. May he fully commit himself to this healing and may he be successful. But, let us remember that the important work that needs to be done in Washington, D.C. and across America is our work as well. We the people are the citizens of this great nation and, as such, we the people have the ability to set the agenda and take an active part in determining who we are as a country.
Last week, my son, Jonah, completed his National History Day project, an in-depth research assignment that asked students to focus on important individuals and organizations who took a stand in history. Jonah chose to look closely at how the American Jewish community took a stand to rescue their European brothers and sisters from the horrors of Hitler. He spent several months researching how American Jews worked tirelessly to challenge both Hitler’s Nazi regime and American immigration policy that severely limited how many European Jews could seek refuge in our country. He was fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to interview renowned Jewish scholars and historians, Dr. Jonathan Sarna and Dr. Raphael Medoff. His research culminated in the documentary American Jews vs. The Nazis which you can watch here.
I share Jonah’s documentary today not simply because I am a proud dad, but because its message is so timely. During WWII, American Jews took a stand, helped to change American policy and ensured that a greater number of European Jews and other war refugees could come to America. If American Jews had not taken a stand, it is likely that President Roosevelt would not have changed his position on immigration and our country would have continued to turn her back on those suffering unimaginable terror.
Whether you are in D.C. at the inauguration or celebrating from afar, whether you are in D.C. protesting President Trump or protesting from afar, Jonah’s documentary reminds us that while the President has tremendous power, we the people have a great deal of power. Whether we support President Trump or not, we, as Americans, have the ability, the right and the obligation to be part of the process and do our part to shape our national agenda.
It is my hope that no one sits out the Trump presidency. President Trump, the United States Congress, the Supreme Court, the citizens of our country and the global community need each of our voices to help define what our nation stands for and how we move into the future. As American-Jews we simply need to watch Jonah’s video to be reminded that we’re part of a community that has taken bold action in the past, action that has changed history for the better. Now is our chance to take bold action once again and do what we can to ensure that our country pursues a path that reflects the values we hold dear.
Shabbat Shalom and God Bless America!