It’s Sunday, January 20, 2012.
Started off the day with a radio interview on WABC “Religion on the Line” with Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, The interview centered on the cemetery regulation bills we just moved through committee this past week. Did you know that in some cemeteries, your family might have to pay thousands of dollars extra to open a grave site on a Sunday even though you already purchased the plot? Not a very pleasant thought all around!
Then it was off to McCloons Boathouse for brunch to fete Steven Goldstein who is moving on from Garden State Equality to become Associate Chancellor for External Affairs at Rutgers, Newark. Literally hundreds of supporters filled this beautiful venue to honor Steven and to move marriage equality a little closer in New Jersey. Steven Goldstein is a remarkable passionate and committed human being. He started Garden State Equality in 2004 to campaign for equality for the LGBT community as well as anti-bullying legislation. He is never understated! He is a great advocate, and I love Steven for all he has done and for who he is. I am proud to call him my adopted son. Steven, may you continue to do good work in your new position. May you continue to watch over GSE until we can all dance at your wedding with Daniel in New Jersey. I can hardly wait to do another “Mother of the Bride” role for that event.
Then it was back to Tenafly to Temple Sinai for an Interfaith Action Against Gun Violence program led by Rabbi Jordan Millstein. What a great group of religious leaders – Christian, Muslim and Jewish – along with some of their congregants who are organizing to help President Obama and our New Jersey legislature pass sensible gun safety measures in our nation and in our state. One of the speakers, Rabbi Joel Mosbacher, shared the heartbreak of his father being murdered by a thief with a gun at his place of business in Chicago some years ago. Rabbi Paula Feldstein told of the loss of her best friend when a crazed gunman killed her in her dorm room 27 years ago. It was an honor to address this group of advocates.
New Jersey is filled with great faith leaders, advocates and residents who want to make our state, nation and indeed the world a better place for our children and grandchildren. Folks like Joe Chuman, the leader of the Ethical Culture Society, who organized a grass roots meeting in Teaneck this past week attended by more than 50 folks. I am so privileged and so happy to be able to move among these people and to share some of their stories
It is now Monday, January 21, Martin Luther King Day and the second ceremonial swearing-in of our President Barack Obama. I will be attending my own inaugural party at a friends’ house today. Tonight is the Bergen County-wide observance of Martin Luther King Day. It is always a tremendous event when we honor outstanding students from all over the county. It will be a more meaningful ceremony this year as we watch Barack Obama assume his second term, and as we remember the horrors that guns in the wrong hands have caused taking the lives of President John F. Kennedy, the Rev. Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy all in a relatively short time in the history of our nation.
I was planning to write about Hurricane Sandy and hopefully the Senate’s passing of the much needed relief package tomorrow. Though I was going to talk about lobbyists and so called “government relations” specialists in NJ, finding ways to get their own little piece of the action in NJ, it seems inappropriate during this week of rememberances and new beginnings.
For just a little while, let’s celebrate the Steven Goldsteins in our lives. Let us all join with the Rabbis Millstein and Mosbacher, and Mohammed Abassi of the Muslim community. Let’s help the Rev. Lynne Bleich Weber, Rector of the Church of Atonement and the Rev. Dr. Eileen Lindner of the Presbyterian Church of Tenafly in a call to action. Go to your local municipal and city councils and ask them to pass resolutions in support of President Obama’s gun safety program. Ask your Mayor to join the national Mayors against gun violence.
So this week, I’m leaving the partisan politics out of my diary. Instead, I want to remember the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King and what his eloquent voice for equality and justice meant to our nation. I want to celebrate all those wonderful students, advocates, young and older, faith community members, and unaffiliated who are standing up in and for New Jersey.
Thank you. We have much work to do.