Tuesday evening, I was at Congregation Bet Ha’am, for the beautiful and moving interfaith service honoring the victims of the horrific massacre that took place on Saturday morning at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. Eleven people died that day. Others were physically injured. The numbers traumatized cannot be counted. They extend beyond the people who were there, and the people whose family and friends were lost, although those certainly sustained a trauma of a magnitude I cannot imagine.
Hundreds of people turned out for the service that lasted more than two hours. I am sure many of you were there- there were too many in attendance for me to find you. That part was gratifying and a cause for hope. The horror is not going unnoticed.
I am deeply troubled. The most obvious reason is that innocent people were murdered.
Dayenu is a word said and sung during Passover, to affirm all of the ways in which God has been good to us. It means it would have been enough. In these troubling times all the events that call me to be awake, engaged and proactive, come to mind. Any one of them would suffice as a call to stand up and be counted.
Eleven people were murdered.
Dayenu. It would have been enough.
They were innocent.
They were murdered in the sanctity of their place of worship, in the midst of prayer.
This happened in a week when:
Thirteen pipe bombs were sent to people who oppose the current administration’s policies.
A caravan of asylum seekers and refugees, women, men and children, was called an invasion by criminals.
Our president announced he wants to change the constitution by executive order, revoking the universal right of citizenship to all persons born in the United States.
I fear for my country. I fear for the vulnerable in these times of scapegoating.
I fear for the children, the elders, the poor, the people of color, the LGBTQ community, the disabled, the ill.
And I fear for myself, a Jew.
I call to mind Pastor Martin Niemoller, arrested by the Nazis, who wrote:
First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Let us heed the call to speak out clearly while there are still enough of us to speak out.
Yours in love and faith,