Today is September 23, 2020 -
I grew up hearing stories of horrific anti-Semitism and that it was inevitable that such anti-Semitism would repeat itself. We were taught “Halachah hi: Eisav sonei et Yaakov” (it is a universal law: Esau hates Jacob) and that we should be vigilant and not trust the other nations of the world, including the United States. Having grown up here I was always somewhat skeptical. The news of the senseless killing of innocent Jews in The Tree of Life shul in Pittsburg this past Shabbat made me think of that teaching. Just as 9/11 took away part of my sense of safety as an American, this heinous act lessens my sense of safety as an American Jew. The perpetual hope of the Jew that this time will be different, that the scourge of anti-Semitism will not rear its ugly head, was certainly challenged this week.
Although most of us did not know the individuals that were killed, they are certainly representative of people we do know. People like the brothers Cecil and David Rosenthal, and Irving Younger who loved to help others in shul, the accountant and sports fan Melvin Wax, the Bubbe and Holocaust survivor Rose Mallinger, the couple Bernice and Sylvan Simon who married in the shul more than 60 years ago, the beloved physician Jerry Rabinowitz, the academic Joyce Fienberg, the dentist Richard Gottfried, and the “simple man” Daniel Stein, remind me of numerous members of our congregation when I think of them.
The vigils that I observed around the country which have included many non-Jews, as well as the broad condemnation by community leaders give us hope that America IS different.
This Shabbat morning please come to services to receive and offer support to other members of the community as we honor them with a special reading, prayer, and song.