Because the horrifying information of the brutal assault on the individuals of Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh unfold via our sanctuary at Congregation Rodef Shalom in Denver on Saturday, we felt devastated, scared and indignant. As we put the Torah again within the ark after its studying, we sang the phrases we sing in Hebrew each week — “It’s a tree of life to all those that cling to it.” Solely, instantly these phrases had new which means.
I went house, and I felt out of breath.
We live in terrifying occasions. Our negligent leaders are careless and sloppy; they don’t seem to be all in favour of placing us again on monitor. They merely watch us spiral uncontrolled — or worse, they encourage us to spiral. Hate is rising in our nation — hate towards Jews, Muslims, Christians, African-Individuals, Latinos, immigrants, the LGBT group — you identify it.
Individuals who may be categorized because the “different” are being casually remodeled into the enemy. A day earlier than the fear assault in Pittsburgh, a white supremacist in Louisville, Kentucky, tried to get right into a black church, prone to do the identical form of horrible harm that was carried out at Tree of Life Synagogue. When he couldn’t get in, he shot two African-Individuals in a grocery retailer.
Hate is hate is hate. And it seems to haven’t any finish. At present, I maintain the ache not simply of the taking pictures on the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, but additionally of Emanuel AME in Charleston and the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin and all others which have been attacked by bigots.
All of this hate is sufficient to make any of us lose our breath.
Nevertheless it’s not simply hate that has induced me to gasp for air. It’s also misplaced priorities.
What’s going to it take for our leaders to know that not each human being ought to have the ability to legally purchase as many weapons as they need? What’s going to it take for our management to reply to the truth that once we promote military-style weapons to civilians, we flip our faculties, synagogues and church buildings into battlefields on which the great guys lose their lives? When will we start placing much less precedence on a 227-year-old, man-made modification and extra precedence on our God-given “inalienable” proper to dwell in security?
I misplaced my breath. I misplaced my breath as a result of we Individuals are misplaced and we are able to’t appear to get again on monitor. When will we start to like our kids greater than we love our weapons? What’s going to it take? From my vantage level, we’re actually deep on this wilderness, and discovering our manner out will take courageous management and a remodeled ideology.
On the Sabbath, I gasped for air as a result of, whereas praying sacred phrases from my custom about peace and justice, I used to be struck by the impression of negligent language coming from our nation’s leaders. When will we acknowledge that phrases matter? That the language of “us” and “them” and the hatred that’s spewed intentionally to demonize anybody who isn’t like us offers confidence and energy to the true violent demons in our midst?
The individuals at Congregation Tree of Life have been attacked as a result of they have been Jews and since a terrorist had easy accessibility to weapons. And since he had purchased into rhetoric that immigrants are out to invade America. And that Jews assist the immigrants.
Sure, Jews have a historical past of supporting immigrants. To that I exhale with aid and say, “Heck, sure, we do.” As a result of our foundational story tells us that we have been slaves within the land of Egypt, and that we should love the stranger as we love ourselves. As a result of our three,500-year historical past has taught us what it’s prefer to run from oppression, poverty and violence. Taught us what it’s prefer to have doorways slammed on us. To be turned away. Whether or not we have been fleeing the destruction of the Temple, the Spanish Inquisition, the pogroms in Europe, antisemitism within the Center East, Nazi Germany, the previous Soviet Union or Ethiopia, we all know what it means to be immigrants and refugees, to be wanderers craving for a house. That is our story. And we’ll proceed to advocate for others who’ve related tales as a result of it’s the proper factor to do.
On Saturday, I misplaced my breath as a result of the America that many Jews ran to feels as if it’s falling aside on the seams. We’re turning our backs on immigrants and refugees of their time of want.
We be part of this week with Jews throughout the nation in mourning. We mourn for treasured lives misplaced. We mourn for the beliefs of this nation. We mourn for a time once we felt secure.
However don’t despair. We is not going to sit in our sackcloths and mourn endlessly. Our custom particularly forbids this. We’ll raise our heads and we’ll converse up. We’ll rally. We’ll vote. These 11 Jews who took their final breaths whereas praying for a greater world is not going to have misplaced their lives in useless. They have been moms, fathers, brothers, sisters, dad and mom, buddies. They arrived early to synagogue to arrange chairs and function greeters. One was a physician. One other was a dentist. One was a runner and one was recognized for his nice smile. Two volunteered to assist ritually take care of the useless of the group earlier than burial. Now they’re all useless — and so they would be the angels whose recollections information us within the work that we should do to get this nation again on monitor.
On Sunday night, hundreds joined collectively right here in Denver at an interfaith vigil in solidarity with Pittsburgh. Non secular leaders from the Christian, Muslim and Sikh communities joined Jewish leaders in track. Folks of all colours and backgrounds, sporting turbans and headscarves and clergymen’ collars and kippot and ministers’ stoles stood collectively, unified and robust. the entire totally different faces of people that have been current to assist my group was, effectively, breathtaking.
In that second, my breath was now not sapped by concern and anger. It was taken by love.
And so I finished. And I gave myself permission to breathe. I took one deep breath. After which one other. We put our arms round one another. And we dedicated to transferring ahead. We could also be scared, however actual bravery means spreading reality even within the face of concern.
My buddies of various religions, my buddies of various races, my buddies of various sexual orientations, my buddies who need to construct a greater tomorrow — we want one another greater than ever proper now. We are able to’t afford to carry our breath, or to hyperventilate in concern. Attain out to any person who’s totally different from you. Have a dialog. Maintain out a hand. That is how we discover our voices and lift them larger and better. Full of increasingly more love.
We Jews will proceed to sing “It’s a Tree of Life to all who cling to it.” We’ll sing loudly and with ardour. We’ll cling to our sacred teachings of affection and peace and justice — and we’ll cling to 1 one other.
Let’s let others into the doorways of our hearts and stride ahead along with braveness.
Rabbi Rachel Kobrin is with the Congregation Rodef Shalom in Denver.