Just when you thought 5780 couldn’t do any more damage, the waning moments of the old year left us with the news of the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Between fights over coronavirus, social justice issues, and climate change, 5780 gave us plenty to argue about. Now we can add Supreme Court nominations to the list. If there is one thing this country could not afford right now, it’s another heated debate.

Our society has been enthralled with digging up old dirt on people in order to discount their current positions. Most of us are aware of how this played out in 2018, when, in an attempt to derail President Trump’s Supreme Court pick, Democrats attempted to highlight an unproven accusation against Brett Kavanaugh. The supposed incident dated back to his high school days, but aside from a he said, she said narrative, the American people never saw any actual evidence of this occurring. Now to be clear, had that incident had any supporting evidence, it would have certainly disqualified Kavanaugh from a Supreme Court seat, but since no evidence was ever brought, it’s impossible to besmirch his name on one account alone.

This year will mark my seventh Rosh HaShanah that I will be leading Musaf. I began in 2014; and from the outset, I decided that each year I will focus on one aspect of davening to improve. The first year, I focused on Malchiyus, Zichronos, and Shofaros. The next year, it was Hineni. However, there was one other part of davening that I chose to set my mind to changing every year: U’N’saneh Tokef.

Being an Orthodox Jew is expensive. I know you read newspapers for the news, and I’m sure that this comes as a shock. Well, that’s the kind of hard-hitting journalism you can come to expect in this paper every week. But it’s true. With the regular expenses of everyday life here in the New York metropolitan area, and the added costs of yeshivah tuition, kosher food, and the premium we pay just to live in a Jewish neighborhood, the money adds up. And we don’t really help ourselves, either. On top of that, we, like all other walks of life, tend to spend above our means. The obvious example is in the simchah department. Before COVID, weddings could easily cost more than $50,000, and often go well above that. Bar and bas mitzvahs are slightly lower, but aren’t split by two sides. Even smaller occasions like a shalom zachar, a bris milah, and a kiddush are often a shock in how expensive they are to first-timers.

Black Lives Matter (the organization) has put itself in a very precarious situation. Until this point, BLM has been able to simultaneously hold up certain individuals on a pedestal as victims, while not having to put them out in front of a camera. These names include Michael Brown and Breonna Taylor. Both of these individuals are part of the “Say Their Names” movement; and since they were both killed in police altercations, BLM had the ability to use them to further their cause while not having to put them in the public eye, as neither one had a stellar reputation if you do not include the final moments of their lives.

If you are a strong follower of interracial victims of lethal violence, you may be familiar with some of the top headline-getters of the past decade. People like Trayvon Martin, Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, Michael Brown – and more recently: Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd – have all become household names. Following these high-profile stories, you may be swayed to think that when there is interracial violence, black people are the exclusive victims; but if we are judging an entire society on anecdotes, we need to look at possibly the most horrific case of interracial violence this country has seen in decades.