Rabbi Alexander Kress
By the time the clock hit zero on Super Bowl Sunday, I had already lost my voice. My Eagles were Super Bowl champions and the intensity of the preceding few hours gave way to pure euphoria. My friends and I were jumping and screaming and hugging and getting FaceTimes from our families. We were in utter disbelief.
A group of us ventured down Market Street towards City Hall, taking a selfie at Independence Hall, waving at the Liberty Bell and high-fiving strangers outside the National Museum of American Jewish History. It seemed as if every home in Philadelphia had evicted its tenants into the streets to celebrate. The Eagles had done something truly unique in the state of our world today; they dissolved an entire city's differences.
People of every race, religion, and political persuasion celebrated in the streets together. (Giving an emphatic high-five to a woman in a hijab was a highlight of my night.) For a few hours, as Philadelphia became a unified community, all seemed right in the world.
But, as we know, all is not right in the world. My experience in the streets of Philadelphia that night, surrounded by an impromptu community, inspired me. If something as trivial as football can unite an entire city, surely we can find ways to mend the wounds of our nation and reach across the aisle to find common ground and give each other a hug.
The Eagles’ motto this season through injuries and adversity was "We all we got, We all we need." They found strength in community to persevere. Frankly, this should be an American motto that inspires each and every one of us to step up and do our part in repairing our broken nation. Our tradition teaches us that we are not to wait for an external force to bring about change, but we are to be that force; as we read in Pirke Avot “you are not required to finish the work, but neither are you free to desist from it”. So, in the ancient words of Rabbi Hillel (adjusted into the first person plural): If we are not for ourselves, who will be for us? If we are only for ourselves, what are we? If not now, when?
Rabbi Alex Kress