We talk about lights at the end of the tunnel, but nothing is more rewarding than a little illumination within the tunnel. On Labor Day, I saw two such lights. I was especially grateful because this is a week laden with memories and reflections. As a Jew, as an American and as a citizen of the world, those lights are helping me to see my way through the season that includes the high holy days and the anniversary of 9/11.
The first light, seen via YouTube, was a performance of the Israel Defense Force band in Red Square in Moscow, in the shadow of the magical St. Basil’s Church, but conjuring up images of the past—the Kremlin, Lenin’s Tomb and the danger and fear—for Jews but not only for Jews—that the square represented in the past. As the band marched smartly, playing tunes from “Fiddler on the Roof” and some familiar folk songs, tears flowed—but they were tears of wonder and joy.
The second light came on C-SPAN. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor was addressing a young audience at the University of Denver Law School. The students ranged from middle school to law school. Her candor and warmth in answering the students’ questions was astonishing. She was like a wise aunt, not a daunting example of the Washington elites. Questions ranged from how she fit in (or didn’t) as an undergraduate at Princeton to what was the most memorable aspect of her nomination to the Supreme Court. She listened to each question as carefully as if it were an argument before the court, and then answered with care and concern in the most “everyday” but eloquent prose.
Such lights make hope a reality—not just wishful thinking.