November 1, 2020
Dear Mr. President,
Today is El Dia De Los Muertos, the Day of the Dead, a Mexican holiday celebrated in Mexico. Although it sounds a bit macabre, it is a day to gather with friends and family to remember and pray for the souls of those who have died. People usually visit the graves but this year the cemeteries in Mexico are closed, due to the pandemic. Alternative plans will still make it possible to honor the meaning of the day and some of the traditions but without the large group gatherings. Maybe some of us in the United States can try some new ways of giving thanks for what we do this Thanksgiving. There are no actions saying we can’t eat turkey or watch a football game, but we probably shouldn’t have the entire family, or all of our friends join us in person. We will also need to think about new rituals to help those mourning the deaths of family, friends, jobs, and in person school. Perhaps you can get your event planning team on this?
Rituals are wonderful ways to give meaning and structure to our lives. This year marked the 5th time several hundred people participated in an event known as Limmud Michigan. Although this year it was on- line with Zoom, the sense of belonging, learning, singing together and all the emotional support people get from seeing each other and participating was still palpable. I know it has given me food for thought and energy. Specifically, I wanted to share some of the music we need at this time. Jacob Spike Krause, a teacher and cantor, was the musical leader who thoughtfully shared 3 powerful songs. The first, Kol Ha’Olam Kulo (Hebrew for the Whole Entire World), is based on a saying attributed to the Hassidic Master, Nachman of Breslov. The saying is “The whole entire world is a very narrow bridge and the main thing is to have no fear at all.” What a wonderful way to give us courage in these difficult times.The second song we shared was “One Day”. I absolutely love this song as it is an “anthem of hope”, according to Matisyahu, a reggae/alt rock singer who recorded it. Here are the words of the chorus; “All my life I’ve been waiting for, I’ve been praying for, For the people to say that , We don’t wanna fight no more, there will be no more wars and our children will play, One Day (6x).
There was a verse of this song that I thought might be of use to you. “It’s not about Win or lose, ‘cause we all lose when they feed on the souls of the innocent, blood-drenched pavement” and goes on to say “in this maze you can lose your way. It might drive you crazy but don’t let it faze you, no way.” Please check it out on YouTube or look up Koolulam singing “One Day” on YouTube. It’s fantastic and gives us hope that one day things will be better.
The final song was one written by Cantor Marcia Attie , specifically for this time of troubles. It’s called “Heart of Mine” and it speaks to the love we have for one another. Here are the words to the chorus: “Walls are coming down (3x), Life is going ‘round (3x), Loving will be found (3x), It’s all inside of you”. The next few days and maybe weeks, will test us all. These songs with their themes of courage, hope and love have cheered me up and I hope they do the same for you.