It has been 2 days since the Jewish community was attacked and 11 died in Pittsburgh. Two days during which I have been grappling with what to say to you, as I felt that anything I could say would sound trite…
Let’s begin with a prayer…
After a Deadly Anti-Semitic Attack
by Rabbi Alden Solovy
Source and Creator,
Grant a perfect rest under your tabernacle of peace
To the victims of murder in
Whose lives were cut off by violence,
An act of witless aggression
And calculated anti-Semitism.
Remember the survivors of this horror,
And the victims of any violence, suffering or despair.
Grant them shelter and solace,
Comfort and consolation,
Blessing and renewal.
Grant them endurance to survive,
Strength to rebuild,
Faith to mourn,
Courage to heal,
And devotion to each other.
Hand of love and shelter,
Put an end to anger and hatred,
Bigotry and fear,
And lead us to a time when no one
Suffers at the hand of another.
For the sake of our people,
And for the sake of Your Holy Name,
Grant the Jews of America,
Your wholeness and healing,
And Your peace. Amen.
We’re angry. We’re heartbroken. We’re distraught. We’re even a little bit surprised. Who gave antisemitism in America permission to crawl out from under its rock?! Oh. Right.
So what do we do with our heartbreak and anger? They seem to be the same emotion traveling in opposite directions, with heartbreak concentrated inward, and anger concentrated outward.
When we focus on our heartbreak, we are often reduced to tears. This is okay as an immediate release of emotion, but exhausting and unsustainable as a long term response. Anger is the better long term response. As the shock wears off and your heartbreak begins to dull, I ask you to hold onto your anger and let it rise. I ask you to exact revenge for the heinous acts that took place in Pittsburgh this past Shabbat morning.
Is this a call to violence? No. Gandhi admonished us that “an eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind,” and he was right. It’s human to have thoughts of revenge, but revenge in the ‘eye for an eye’ sense keeps us connected to those against whom we desire revenge, instead of keeping us connected to their victims.
No, the form of revenge we should take is the one that will allow us to cause pain to white nationalists simply by being openly proud, tolerant Jews. Saturday’s victims were killed because they were Jewish, and also because they were hated for their support of refugees. Take revenge by living your Judaism openly and boldly. Take revenge by supporting and fighting on behalf of refugees. Take revenge by standing together with all victims of hate.
It’s important to remember that although we live in a time of violent speech and violent acts, we are mostly surrounded by people who are as sickened by this as we are. I thus leave you with this modern update on “First They Came”:
First they came for the Muslims and I was not a Muslim. But I said, “Not on my watch!”
Then they came for the undocumented and my grandparents were undocumented, and I said, “Refugees make America great.”
Then they came for trans and binary people, and I said, “We are all created in God’s image, no exceptions!”
And then they came for women survivors of assault. And I said, “Are you friggin kidding?”
And they have been coming since before we were a nation for indigenous people and black people. And I haven’t said enough.
And then they came for Jews. And I am a Jew.
And friends of different faiths and races and sexual and gender identities stood with me and said, “We will outlive them!” by Rabbi Nancy Fuchs Kreimer
We can overcome hate and darkness with Love (Ahava) and Light. It may be trite, but it’s also true.
Daniel Stein, 71
Joyce Fienberg, 75
Richard Gottfried, 65
Rose Mallinger, 97
Jerry Rabinowitz, 66
Cecil Rosenthal, 59
David Rosenthal, 54
Bernice Simon, 84
Sylvan Simon, 86
Melvin Wax, 88
Irving Younger, 69
Wounded congregants – two
Wounded law enforcement officers – four
“Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief…. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.” TALMUD