Mordechai ben-Arkush condemned for Haman statement

straight off the arkushThe President of the Board of Shushan Jews, Mordechai ben-Arkush (pictured far right), has been widely condemned for his statement offering “congratulations” to Haman on his appointment as Grand Vizier of Persia.

The Board’s statement noted Haman’s “divisive” policy of exterminating the Jewish people, but concluded, “We hope that Mr Haman will move to build bridges and ensure that Persia’s standing as a beacon of tolerance remains strong.”

An open wax tablet signed by over 180 young Shushan Jews called the statement “laughable”.

Its author, Esther Hilton, said: “Haman is a truly appalling man. He’s demanded that Jewish people bow down to him, and he doesn’t believe that horse-drawn carriages contribute to climate change. And he’s anti-abortion.

“How any representative of our community could wish him ‘mazel tov’ is beyond me.”

In a supplementary statement responding to the controversy, the Board admitted that it had “concerns” about Haman’s construction of a gallows intended solely for Jews, and reiterated the need “to strike a balance”. However, it said, we had to “respect the wishes of the Emperor” and noted that every other neighbouring empire had also welcomed the appointment.

Dramatis personae

In tonight’s episode, Mordechai ben-Arkush was played by Jonathan Arkush. Esther Hilton was played by Em, and the part of Haman was played by Donald Trump. This was an Gabrielquotes production!

An Election Day Prayer

I’ve found it pretty much impossible to concentrate on work things today. Elections and democracy and justice and rationality and informed decision-making are really important to me. And, the Council of the synagogue where I work needed an opening prayer for its meeting tonight. So, for those of us who are going to be awake and on the edge of our seats tonight:

Eternal God,
God of Righteousness, God of Care:
Today, on this day of democracy, we do Your work.
As it is said, “After the majority must we incline,”[1]
So we now go to the polls.

Grant blessing to Your servants
Who make this long-held dream of freedom into reality.
Give the poll workers justice to warrant the trust placed in them,
Insight to count the ballots truly,
And strength as they labour through the night.

Above all, grant wisdom to all Your people who vote:
Let all voters be sage,
Castings their votes with care,
Guided by the wit You have given us, not by tricks or sorcery or charms.[2]

Let all voters be compassionate,
Casting their votes not only for themselves,[3]
But for the peace and prosperity and wellbeing of all,[4]
Especially the strangers within our gates.[5]

Let all voters be courageous,
Casting their votes according to their convictions,
Willing to stand against the many, not blindly following the crowd.[6]

For this election day is our chance to make a change.
Every vote leads to action.
This is the day when we do not gaze with helpless yearning
As though we had no strength.
Today, we have strength. We have power. Today, we are sovereign.
May our land be safe and all our lives blessed.[7]
May every vote be as a prayer to You.[8]

GW 08.11.16

[1] Baba Metzia 59b
[2] Cf. Deuteronomy 18:10-11
[3] Cf. Pirke Avot 1:14
[4] Cf. Jeremiah 29:7
[5] Cf .Deuteronomy 10:19
[6] Cf. Exodus 23:2
[7] Based on Rabbi Jack Riemer, New Prayers for the High Holy Days, 1930
[8] Cf. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel’s, “When I marched at Selma, I felt my feet were praying.”