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Op-Ed: The People’s President

by Getzy Markowitz – Jewish Thought in Simple Words

As an observant Jew I do not study scripture, but rather I try to live by it, using the word of G-d as a script for life. In that sense I am a slave. This week’s biblical portion tells the story of my people prior to our redemption from Egypt.

Today, I witnessed the freedom of a people embodied in the ascension of one man to the single most powerful position on earth. The new leader of the free world is the son of people the world has been cruel to. A man who long ago would have been judged by the color of his skin has been elected to deliver on the promise of his character. It is a great day for America, and for all Americans, whether or not they voted for President Obama.

Two months ago I stood in Times Square as the gentleman from Illinois became the president-elect. Today I was there again to watch him become the President of the United States. The crowds were enormous, and their passion withstood the frigid temperature. African-Americans weren’t the only ones crying, as even registered Republicans could not deny themselves participating in the making of history.

As someone who loves New York, and who frequently strolls through Times Square, I know that a long stretch of silence mixed with disturbances of cheer and excitement is unnatural for a crossroads where honking horns and noise are the standard. However, while traffic may have not stopped in the Square, it was as if time did. There were no blasts from automobiles or people shouting on mobile phones. There were just eyes glued to gigantic displays that brought the ceremony, which hopefully will bring change, to them.

When the Jews left Egypt, dogs were muzzled by awe. There was a hush of silence as a nation rose to triumph. Today’s remarkable inauguration had a member of a minority rising as the executive of a united majority, and a people’s triumph over their own dark past. Times Square’s deafening silence was an appropriate tribute to a defining moment in our nation’s history.

The commentary of the Sefat Emet on our current Torah reading is a good assessment on what this country has experienced today: Moses knew that the power of a leader derives from his people. If he had not succeeded in penetrating their hearts, he would not have been able to achieve anything on their behalf.

I pray that our new President leads the American people with dignity and integrity, and that he penetrates our hearts. I pray that he achieves all that he has set out to accomplish on behalf of the people of the United States, and indeed of the entire world.

33 Comments

  • 1. RCL wrote:

    I agree the world may have been cruel to his parents but not in this country he is not the son of african american parents he is the son of muslim americans.

    If this man delivers on his promises it will be the demise of this great country of ours.

    Many were crying and yes as you say because of this great historic moment but tears of sorrow uncertainty and fear not happiness.

    Change is good only when it is for the better. If things are going down hill and you change them to go down a different hill you aren’t helping.

    Silence is unique don’t confuse excitement with fear.

  • 2. WE WILL SEE wrote:

    I will judge him by how he handles the attacks on the israeli population,at the bloody paws of hamas and others.

    If he is an objective man and leavs israel to its own means as to how to protect its citizins, i will then know that he is an honorable man and a good president.

    And then…..we neeed to pray to hashem and ask of him to protect us from our own israeli jewish politicians who cause us harm from within. These poeple are our greatest anemy from within.

  • 3. true freedom? wrote:

    “As an observant Jew I do not study scripture, but rather I try to live by it, using the word of G-d as a script for life. In that sense I am a slave.”
    What does this mean? You don’t learn Torah? By keeping mitzvos, you are a servant of Hashem, trying to free yourself from evil-you are not a “slave” to world influences.
    The Jewish people were physically free from Egypt with the exodus but spiritual freedom came at Mount Sinai with the giving of the Torah. Blacks may have physical freedom with a black man becoming president but their spiritual freedom is dependent on their acceptance of the seven laws of Noah. And considering that President Obama considered in his first day in office to annul a law against funding promotion of abortion, the president and his race, as well as the nation, have not achieved true freedom.

  • 4. Diana or Obama??? wrote:

    Instead of plagiarizing Tony Blair’s statement — why not try to actually be original!!

    Tony Blair famously called Princess Diana “the people’s princess”.

    Plagiarizing (quoting/copying someone else’s idea)is not the way to gain fame and respect – even in the frum world.

    Shame on you Getzy – we expect better.

  • 5. to: diana or obama?? wrote:

    oh please. that is not plagiarizing – it is called allusion and is a very good way to get your point across. i also highly doubt that this is the first time obama has been called “the people’s president”

  • 6. Shmuli wrote:

    To RCL:

    Please learn your history.

    The reason why we have African Americans in the US is as a result of US citizens being cruel to the blacks in other countries and human trafficking them to the US to be sold as slaves. Consequently, all blacks were persecuted by the US – either by being physically trafficked or living in the fear of being trafficked. We are therefore happy for him and his race.

    For the many of us who had tears of joy, it is unfortunate that you couldn’t do so. You are to consumed in your own agony that one day his kids will rob your house… Well…keep hoping.

    I do not know if he will be better or worse for Israel than Mccain, but I have two things to say to you. Whether you admit it or not, you’re a racist and he is not a Muslim.

  • 8. to true freedom and Dianna wrote:

    Learn to appreciate writing. The author was playing with words: he was saying that he doesn’t merely study, but LIVES by Toraseinu Hakedosha

    and same applies to “True Freedom”: that’s the point! Dianna became the peeps princess why? Bc she captured them. And Getzy is clearly playing with Blairs words.

  • 9. abe wrote:

    Nobody except a past U.S. president can appreciate the pressure he has and the fatigue he will endure.

    Anyone who has taken on even the simple job of being a president of a congregation and dealing with the constant complaints and infighting of the people can understand why only a masocist or some one that reall feels dedication to a country would even think about being its president.

  • 11. re allusion wrote:

    the person your responding to prob has no clue was your saying. If he/she did not understand Getzy’s intentions that why would you assume he/she understands what allusion is
    here is the definition:
    an expression designed to call something to mind without mentioning it explicitly; an indirect or passing reference

    Getzy’s great essays often include allusions.

  • 12. CH MOM wrote:

    Isn’t it a shame that people just don’t get things in this community?
    Getzy keep on writing, because YOU bring HOPE that may bring CHANGE!
    -a CH mother

  • 13. statistics wrote:

    You know what I wonder?
    If 10 or even 50 people attack Getzy for the most rediculous reasons, particularly their ignorance and poor education, self or imposed; what about the thousands who read it and don’t comment?
    I guess people really love this author. I do. My kids do. My friends do.

  • 14. sheichen ha-sh-chuna wrote:

    There is only one litmus test that will determine the success of this administration and the future of America as the dominant positive force in this world; Its treatment of Jews and authentic Jewish causes. The safety and the success of the Jewish people is determined solely by the will of the Almighty and his will is determined largely by how we treat each other. All of the rest, the details which we so vehemently espouse and debate are merely extensions and symptoms. Now, while we wait to see what transpires, we should get back to the real task of promoting authentic Jewish identity and responsibility.

    ps: Please stop gushing over Obama. Aside from the fact that his Afro-American persona lacks any factual basis, it is simply embarrassing to read a grown man’s swooning over a busser v’dom sh’ain lei b’chira chofshis, who is devoid, so far, of any hard won z’chusim, i.e., bona fides. At this stage he is utterly unproven and as thin as a campaign bill board and as trite as an election slogan. Only the future will tell… Also why invest so much hope in a man whose fundamental political views conflict with halacha.

  • 15. I-m Smarter wrote:

    Let’s talk after 4 years.
    Then we will all be smarter!

    i “hope” he does not “succeed” in his “change”.

  • 16. ObamAberration wrote:

    BS”D

    If he goes ahead with even a small part of his change, then at the end of his term he will no longer even be the head of the free world – that will be the role of some EU bureaucrat or the leader of India.

    Worse yet, the free world may not matter anymore as China, which is not free, becomes the dominant world power, and the Islamic states’ (and allied terror organizations) threat to the free world becomes even greater than it is now.

    However, I think that he will prove to be a complete cipher, an incompetent who gets nothing done and who, like Jimmy Carter, is trounced at the polls comes next election time.

    Nevertheless, I can now imagine how many of our grandparents felt on the eve of the October Revolution – false hope masking very real fear. Only the Constitution protects us – but if there is an economic meltdown, who knows what will be?

    And since when do we, as Chabad chassidim, fall for and repeat the vapid slogans of an empty politician? Will we next see Britney Spears lyrics on the comment section here?

  • 17. obamination wrote:

    it seems very fashionable to drool over this “historic moment” doesnt it? you dont MUST follow the herd, particularly when theyre heading towards the demise of this very great country. just because its “cool” to idolize obama right now, doesnt make it ok. its pathetic to idolize anyone at all, particularly a man whos been on the political scene for so short a time with almost no track record whatsoever. let us hope and pray that he does not institute his socialist agenda before its too late for all of us who believe in the freedom of the constitution. as for the author, your writing isnt the problem, its what you wrote. also, it wasnt the americans who were slave trafficking the africans, they only bought slaves after they were already captured for the purpose of being sold, by their own neighboring african tribes. its like solely faulting someone buying stolen goods while absolving the actual thief!!!

  • 19. Very Sceptical of BO wrote:

    Maybe you didn’t hear when BO called America a land of Xtians and Muslums,(long pause) Jews and Hindus, etc … This country was founded on JUDAIC principles to some extent, the founding fathers were philo-semites, learned Hebrew at their universities, read the Bible in the original language and many used english versions of Hebrew names. There was not a Muslum in sight. Guess we Jews can go to the back of the bus now. Fasten your seat belts for a bumpy ride. As the Chumash said, there arose a Pharoh who knew not Yosef. Let’s get real and live with the times!

  • 21. Boruch ben Tzvi(A H)HaKohaine Hoffinger wrote:

    BS“D
    I found the essay very interesting. Much sentiment came across.
    We don’t know if President Obama will help America in wholesome ways, but let’s hope. Let’s also hope that he can assuage the fears of those who believe that he will turn America into a ‘weak’ socialist country and ‘Be taxed to death.’
    Webby wrote: ”As an observant Jew I do not study scripture, but rather I try to live by it…“
    If Webby doesn’t study, how is he an ”Observant Jew?“ Isn’t part of being ‘observant’ studying; study is a Mitzvah.
    Better: ”As an observant Jew I do not JUST study…“
    Webbey said ‘naase’ but not ‘nishma.’
    Thusly, why use the word ‘observant?’ (Meaning living with
    something-acting.) Just say:
    ”As a Jew I do not ONLY study scripture, but rather I try to live by it.”
    It certainly is historic that a Black man can become president. Hopefully many more Blacks will have more (Healthy) self-esteem and feel it’s worthwhile to abide by a decent work ethic seeing the possibilities. In the past slavery and bigotry certainly became a cruel enterprise even though there were a number of bright spots.
    As far as Obama’s relationship to Israel, I don’t care too much about his attitude. Nations act out of self-interest. Medinat Israel should FIRST do the right thing and take care of it’s own. They don’t need America’s financial aid (Check it out!).
    Hopefully this ‘milestone’ will augur well for this country.
    Only time will tell.

  • 22. na-ase v-nishma wrote:

    dude, if you choose to do it you’re not a slave. And you’re definitely choosing.

  • 23. aaa wrote:

    As an observant Jew, perhaps you should also start studying scripture… There’s no excuse for a Yid not to know Tenach, and definitely you should know Chumash.

    I believe you meant to write as follows:

    As an observant Jew I do not JUST study scripture, but rather try to EXPERIENCE it, using the word of G-d as a script for life. In that sense, TODAY I am a slave. This week’s biblical portion tells the story of my people prior to our redemption from Egypt.

  • 24. racists wrote:

    barack obama is gonna be one of the greatest presidents ever he has the judgment and ability to get every body back on there feet he will be like Lincoln and Ragen and to all you racists writing these articles prove to what you write is right.

  • 25. Acting as study! wrote:

    u guys dont get it. getzy is saying essentially that he doesnt leave it to cold study but to emotional hot action.

    how come i got it?

  • 26. you people! wrote:

    This Kehila is really driving me to insanity! Do you really thing that getzy menat he doesn’t study? Are you that illiterate!? Where is your appreciation for a great thinker and communicator. I think his ways of construing a sentnce is brillianbt. My oppinion.

  • 28. RCL wrote:

    to shmuli
    before you decide that I am the ignorant one and deciding that I need to study history take a minute to read what I wrote and maybe even verify or void it with a little research. It is unclear where the president was born. Regardless of where that was we do know that he grew-up studying in an islamic school. His mother was born and raised in the USofA his father on the other hand was born in Kenya (Africa) and raised in Indonesia as a Muslim. Barak who’s middle name is Hussein was raised by his father until a young age as a Muslim and then later moved to Indonesia to further that lifestyle.

    Yes, I know I am leaving some details out as I am way to lazy to research this and fill in what i don’t know off hand.

    My point is that although his father was a black man he was not persecuted at least not by our people he was well educated and was furthering his studies in America when he met the presidents mother. I did egsadurate the point about Barak’s father being Muslim American its just that that is how he was raised he would better be classified as a african muslim american if he was american at all.

    I do not hope I get robbed by anyone let alone someone that would get a pardon like a presidents child for example. Although statistically speaking the majority of known felons are black.

    I will not disagree on the race issue, I am a raciest and an elitist meaning not only do I believe that blacks are lesser than me, I also believe that I (and my race) am superior to all others. Therefore when a man of such low level is elected into such a powerful place it pains me and should pain others as well.

  • 29. michal wrote:

    Barry Hussein Obama is the emissary of the Satan; this has NOTHING to do with his race. Obviously this includes being an enemy of Klal Yisroel. The Erev RAv who voted for him will rue the day they did so. May Hashem have rachmanes on us all (amen).

  • 32. avrohom wrote:

    to RCL
    don’t forget ‘kings are in the hand of Hashem’!!!!!
    and about your last (stupid) comment
    do you think that President Bush or any other president was of a higher race than Obama because was WHITE????

  • 33. Ben Wilson wrote:

    That was an extremely well written piece. Coming from a neighborhood and group of websites so overtly negative about this entire situation, I commend you for your candor and honesty. It was a magical day for America and really the world as a whole. May God bless our Union and our president.

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