Six weeks of wallowing. Each day unbelievably worse than the one before. Since the day that Donald Trump was elected President, an event that I figured unsurpassable in terms of stirring up and scaring a good portion of the Western World, a day we will all remember, yes, 11-9!, it was hard to imagine things could get worse. But worse they are. And each few days, with the announcement of one more unqualified, inappropriate, sometimes outrageous, candidate to serve as Secretary of this or that, in many cases those whose personal agendas are directly opposed to the agencies over which they will have supreme control, I've begun to sunk into what can only be considered a serious depression. Now, over here in Israel, I live in a swamp. Yes, that same kind of swamp Trump promised to clean up, and the very one he's constructing, brick by brick, for unsuspecting (maybe not-so-unsuspecting at this point) Americans. And, as everyone knows, swamps are not very nice places. They're filled with all sorts of unknowns, things one can neither see nor anticipate; an inordinate amount of muck that lurks, at the ready, to wreck total havoc. They fester dangers whose potential for serious, even irreparable, damage, cannot be measured. Yes, we have our own version of the swamp over here in the Holy Land. And I'm talking "official" dreck. Although our Parliament includes quite a few people with good values, great ideas and inordinate energy to fight for the greater good, we have even more (or so it seems) who are just making a mess of everything and wouldn't recognize an ethical decision if it hit them in the face. The latest revelations from said dregs regards the most recently announced, government approved, distribution of public funds. The Rabbinical Commemoration fund, the Settlement Division and building projects and other ventures supported by the Ministry of Religious Affairs will see a rise in their allocations while elementary schools, after school programs that enable parents to work, the health department and fire fighters (how ridiculous is that in light of last month's burning inferno) will experience severe budgetary cuts. Talk about a swamp! While I've never been so naïve as to imagine that in America there isn't much of the same, that both federal and state governments don't include a significant number of individuals whose ideas are terrifying and destructive to the advancement of an enlightened population, I've always been under the impression that most of those in particularly high places, such as those running foreign affairs, education, the EPA, HUD, the interior and national health (to name only a few), yes, those in charge!, have good intentions, are acquainted with the system and know pretty much what they were doing. So now, I'm freaking out. Because the concept of placing so many people with no experience whatsoever and more than a small vested financial interest (read: HUGE vested interest) in the outcome of the areas they control, is absolutely terrifying. One nomination in particular has drawn the attention of those among the Israeli population still hoping that a two-state solution will eventually come to pass: Trump's egregious selection for American Ambassador to Israel--a man who epitomizes precisely that kind of fanatical extremity which will most assuredly hurl our world, just barely holding on to a certain fragile balance, into complete darkness. There's no question that as we careen into 2017 things are looking more than a little bleak. One peek outside of the four walls of my house (and how I wish I could avoid doing so by simply shutting off the television, pitching the newspaper and ignoring the internet) reveals a world that looks very little like the one I imagined inhabiting and nothing like that I imagined for my children. And although misery loves company, the fact that another 300 million people have joined our tiny population, already lodged firmly in the boggy floor of the swamp, does little to console. I try to take some comfort from knowing that traditions, familial, cultural and national, still manage to continue despite global turmoil. In all this darkness, I'm personally looking forward to Hanukkah, to those little lights, the ones we kindle eight consecutive days to commemorate the miracle that sustained the faith of a people: a meager amount of oil stretching more than a week, lasting until new oil could be pressed and ready. Maybe we should summon some of the fiery resolve shown by the Maccabees as they fought to reclaim their Temple from the Hellenistic Antiochus. After all, in many ways we too are now faced with the task of restoring an enlightened world order threatened by destruction. That will just leave the minor detail of the miracle. And who knows? Stranger things have been known to happen.

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