Jewish Journal

Sparking Innovation

by Beit T'shuvah

July 5, 2013 | 10:45 am

Egypt after the Coup
Photo credit: cnn.com

By Rabbi Mark Borovitz

What a week! There is the change of power in Egypt, Independence Day here and in Today's New York Times there is an article about Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos. I have some idea of how convoluted my brain must seem to put these three things together, yet I am.

The change in Egypt is probably a Both/And. Both the people of Egypt are disgruntled, disturbed and afraid of what they see as the dictatorial power grab by the Islamic Brotherhood, AND the military and former associates of Hosni Mubarak wanted control. Is there Redemption for the average Egyptian? Unfortunately, only time will tell. Yet, I believe that we, as a country and as individuals need to help/ensure/ do what we can to help Redeem the people and give them an informed choice, rather than letting factions dominate. I ask everyone to demand of Congress and the President to send Nobel Peace Prize winners to negotiate and bring everyone to the table. We have the power of billions of dollars in aid to make this happen. This is how we can redeem our inactions of past years, I believe.

Independence Day is not a one-time event nor should it be celebrated only once a year. Independence Day is every day that we redeem ourselves and others from the tyranny of slavery to addictive behaviors, i.e. doing the same things over and over and expecting different results. Our Independence Day stands as an example of what a few people of faith can accomplish through the power of working together for a common mission. Are we still these same people of faith? I hear a lot about faith from others, as a way of dividing rather than using faith to unite. I have had conversations with Father Greg Boyle and Reverend Andy Bales about ways that we all can, and do, work together to help the poor, the voiceless, the stranger and the powerless rise up and live lives of meaning and purpose. This is not a yearly occurrence; this is a daily challenge that we all have to help meet.  How are you helping to meet this challenge?

So what does Tony Hsieh have to do with this? He is trying to revitalize downtown Las Vegas with an entrepreneurial spirit that brings with it a place for all to meet, greet and work together to redeem this area. He wants it hip, innovative, a place where "chance encounters on the street or at a club—urban collisions—spark innovation.” Whether it will or won’t work, like the change in Egypt, only time will tell. What I know is that without his spirit, nothing will change.

I am calling on all of us to be aware of these "chance encounters" like the one that sparked the "Arab Spring,”—Theodore Herzl, Samuel Adams, Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, et.al. Lets then "spark innovation” and Redemption!

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