May 30, 2016
I have spent this whole campaign of 2016 refraining from saying/posting anything about a candidate or candidates.
I realize that my "rabbi-ness" connects me to the community and congregation I serve, although I am also a private citizen with views of my own. I refrain from making endorsements due to my position.
Still, I listen to what candidates and their supporters say and watch what they do. And, this year, I am very concerned.
This is not a perfect world with perfect people. People have flaws. People have strengths. People who are leaders or potential leaders may be scrutinized on the basis of how they make decisions, how they approach other people who work with them, how they listen to and respond to their constituents, and how they seek to unite people rather than sow division based on fear (especially if they are running for a public office like POTUS).
I scrutinize candidates for public office, even those whom I might support, by looking at their strengths, weaknesses, their sense of fairness, their potential for team building and bipartisanship, and their fortitude and endurance in the face of challenges and criticism.
And I will continue to do so. I believe that is what I am supposed to do as an American.
June 7, 2016
I have just a little experience speaking both from a prepared text and speaking impromptu/spontaneously. A couple of years ago, I gave my usual prepared sermon on Yom Kippur morning, but I also took the opportunity to add a few comments during the service on the spur of the moment from my head and heart. One congregant came up to me and said, "I like your sermons but I REALLY like when you speak from your heart when you are in the moment." I had to think about that, but it did remind me that I can speak respectfully and meaningfully without a written-out text in front of me. The point is, though, that, either way, the "real me" comes out.
Just because someone uses a prepared text once or twice and sounds more "measured" than he/she does when speaking "in the moment" doesn't mean that the person has changed. I see that as a reflection of someone being inconsistent.
I believe that, ultimately, we hope for consistency in our leaders, whether we agree or disagree with them. And we do want to know who they really are so that we can choose our leaders wisely.