Sunday, November 02, 2008

Politics and Religion (not what you think)

If you can't beat 'em - join 'em!
Everyone, even here in Israel, is obsessed with the US elections this year. I just can't get away from it. As I have mentioned before, I did not vote in this election (the whole JBlogsphere was full of where to vote in Israel last week).
I do, however, have a bittersweet memory of elections past.
In August of 1964 I went with a friend to the NY State Democratic convention where we waited outside and found someone who gave us tickets to the visitors gallery (it was in an armory in Manhattan) where we saw Robert F. Kennedy accept the nomination for US senator. This was a man who helped stand up to the Russians and sent out the National Guard to guarantee James Meredith the right to go to college in Mississippi*. We were way too young to vote but we were excited about seeing RFK.
After it was over and Kennedy departed to celebrate his victory we went down to the convention floor to pick up some souveniers. There was red, white and blue plastic bunting tacked to the speakers platform and I took a long piece of it and folded it up to bring home. I'm not sure what I actually planned to do with it but it was in my closet several weeks later when my dad enlarged our succa and we were looking for something to cover the extra length of the wall with. We had a colorful and patriotic succa that year (also waterproof).
I had the feeling that I had it all, Jewish and American. Not bad at all.
We signed up with the local Democrats and were invited to help campaign for the ticket in our area of Queens. We were invited to join a campaign bus one Friday afternoon which was accompanying RFK to rallies around Kew Gardens, Woodhaven and Forest Hills (if I remember correctly).
We went on the bus and arrived at his stops before him with signs and cheer when he arrived and give out flyers to the people who were passing by or actually listening to the speeches. It was a crisp fall day and the feeling was exhilarating! I felt really good about it.
Then it started to get close to Shabbat. On the bus they announced that we were all invited to continue with the candidate to a restaurant nearby for a fish dinner. (Friday in those days meant fish for Catholics - nothing is the same any more.)
I got off the bus and took a city bus home, in time to light shabbat candles and have chicken soup and flanken.

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*So I'm so old that this history is current events to me.

1 comment:

muse said...

Childhood memories...
What a great post!

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