Today eleven Jewish worshipers in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania were gunned down in cold blood by a crazed, anti-semitic white nationalist as people of faith were in Temple praying. I am weeping as I try to write something to reflect how I am feeling. Eleven people killed, 6 wounded, at The Tree of Life Synagogue. The largest mass murder in the Jewish community in the United States of America.
I grieve, and I hurt. I do not personally know any of these people, but I feel like they are my family. You see, we all share the same faith. We are Jews. And we all come from a community of peace loving people, brought up to believe that it is our duty each and every day to do a “mitsvah” (a good deed) to help other human beings. Our responsibility in this life is to give back to our communities and help our neighbors. And therefore, Jews anywhere in this world become my family. My “mishpucha”. And I cry because I feel a deep sense of loss today. This could have been any one of us. I have known this reality since I was a child. But, during my 6 decades on earth I have come to feel safe in this amazing country of mine. It is only in the last two years since this President has been in office, have I begun to fear for my safety and the safety of my family.
The President says an armed guard could have stopped this madman with deadly weapons. There were trained officers trying to stop the shooter and four of them were wounded. So, respectfully, Mr. President, an armed guard wouldn’t have stopped an Anti-Semitic monster with a machine gun and other firearms. He was hell bent on killing Jews in the middle of their morning prayers.
And what kind of leadership does it show this nation when our President didn’t even bother to cancel his political rally tonight after such a tragedy occured? He has trivialized the deaths of my fellow Jews and those brave officers and citizens who were injured along with the families who are grieving the loss of loved ones. There are no words strong enough to express my disappointment in American leadership today and the pain I am feeling along with such helplessless.
The Prime Minister and President of Israel have offered their condolensences and prayers and offered sanctuary to the grieving families, and yet our own President has not done as much. To say I am disappointed and angry is an understatement.
I ache inside. But I rise up. We Jews are stronger than hate! We have survived miraculously through the centuries and held onto our faith. We will continue to pray and be strong. And we will persist in helping our neighbors of all faiths during this violent time in America. Yes, we will continue to fight for justice, even when the world around us seems unkind and unfair. The history of my people is immortal. We always survive as a people. ALWAYS!
I look to my faith tonight and pray that I can protect my children and grandchildren from the rising hatred and anti-semitism that has lifted its ugly head during the current administration. And I vow that I will do whatever I must to keep my loved ones safe. We will survive and defeat those that try to take us down. And we will not do it with hate. We will do with it with kindness and love.
“To Life! L’Chaim!”
Please join me in the prayer for the dead. The mourner’s kaddish.