Another day, another horrific mass murder. This time apparently in a predominantly white Baptist church just outside San Antonio, Texas.
So many questions, so much pain.
First, condolences to the victims’ families. Prayers for a speedy and full recovery for all who are injured. Peace to those traumatized by this attack.
Although, I heard something today on Fox News. Eric Shawn, while covering this senseless mayhem, said something on air around 4:15pm Eastern time that caught my attention. He said something along the lines of: Is this what America has come to, that we have to have a law allowing a conceal and carry person at every church to help protect those worshipping?
Now, I have tremendous respect for Mr. Shawn and enjoy when he is on air. But that statement is a perfect example of what is wrong with humanity, particularly in our country, even more in rural communities.
Mr. Shawn, for as long as I can remember, every Jewish congregation of more than 50 people has had to hire armed security. You know, your fellow Americans who are of the Jewish faith, not of the Christian faith. Some of whom you might even mistake for Christians, what with their blond hair, blue eyes, and all.
Every high holy day service my bag is searched like at the airport. Every Sabbath I nod to the guard who checks everyone entering. Every time I pick my son up from Hebrew school, they check my car to make sure I don’t have malicious intent upon entering the school grounds.
I am sad that my white Christian brothers and sisters are going to be initiated to this harsh reality. Notice that I didn’t say my black Christian brothers and sisters. They’ve seen their churches attacked for decades, if not centuries.
I remember as an early teenager attending Yom Kippur services on a sunny, chilly, fall day with my dad. He knew one of the off-duty officers protecting our synagogue and saying hello. This is the reality for Jews in America. And black people. And Muslims. And many more.
There is nothing more tragic than the realization that the world is not a safe place, even in your house of worship. There are people who mean harm. There are people with great evil in their hearts.
I am sorry for white Christian America that apparently you are not being spared.
What I do pray for is that we can come together for peace. That we will understand that we all have fears, some real some perceived.
Now more than ever, when our friend, neighbor, or stranger, expresses concern, we must listen first. We must reach out human-to-human. We must actually make an effort to understand.
I pray that love rules first. That we will no longer angrily dismiss another’s concern.
Maybe, just maybe, my white Christian friends will no longer ignore or downplay the real fears of their fellow Americans who happen to be Jewish, Muslim, black, brown, or any other “Other.”
Out of tragedy, the wonderful heart of humanity can step forth. I believe in the core values of all the great faiths, our country, and many who wish to lead.
Now is the time for us to connect our thoughts with those values, and turn our thoughts into words and action.
Today is the day we must acknowledge our sicknesses based on fear. Today we must connect with one other through love and not violence.
May you be inscribed (in the Book of Life) for a good year.
Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year and literally means “head of the year.”
Rabbi Benjamin Blech has an insightful article titled “Jews Don’t Say Happy New Year” on Rosh HaShanah. An excerpt quoting Kathleen Vohs, “”Happy people get joy from receiving benefits from others while people leading meaningful lives get a lot of joy from giving to others.” In other words, meaning transcends the self while happiness is all about giving the self what it wants.”
After a year in which Jew Hatred reared its vile, ugly head across Europe (synagogues firebombed in Germany and Belgium, Jews viciously attacked at a synagogue in France), and around the rest of the world surrounding Israel’s war with Gaza.
Let us all, Jews and Gentiles alike, pray for peace. Pray for people to value life more than death, pray for our children to be the future of goodness, pray for the hate-filled to become love-filled, pray for the angry to let it go, pray for the righteous to shine joyful light on the darkness that lurks and leaps, and pray for leaders to step forward.
In this New Year, may peace, prosperity, and joy find you and your family.
To all of the women of the world who are mothers, your gifts of love, nurturing, teaching, and sacrifice are greatly appreciated by all. May this day reflect that love to you from the hearts of your children. Peace be with you.