I am a sufferer, a witness and a survivor of the worst massacre within the history of the American Jewish community, and I am the Rabbi of Tree of Life in Pittsburgh.
In the time because of the tragedy there, I occasionally locate it challenging to split non-public, subjective feelings from being goal due to my presence there that day. As a pacesetter in my network, what words of awareness may be offered that are not tinged with my own grief, borne of each my reports and the deep loss that I sense for eleven lovely souls martyred in our synagogue?
The massacre in mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, tore the scab off the wound, revealing pain and suffering that I thought I had processed. That day and next days taught me that I will forever convey with me October 27, 2018 — while my personal place of worship was attacked — and be regularly reminded of it. But in addition, they taught me that what I do with those deep-seated emotions is my desire to make. I know there are times whilst the narrative is in price, and yet other instances after I can try to efficiently direct that narrative.
How does a Rabbi reply? How does one encourage and guide others? There isn’t any playbook to refer to, no Rabbinic colleague to percentage their non-public revel in, no earlier reflections upon which to ruminate. Yet my deep abiding faith grew even greater. I flip to God every day for aid, guidance, and suggestion. It changed into apparent from the start that my being spared had to lead to motion, that the eleven must now not have died in useless.
As I take a step again to take it all in, allow me to proportion my view from 30,000 feet. After the horror in Tree of Life, I took an oath a scant weeks later at a rally at Point State Park, in downtown Pittsburgh, that said that the word “hate” is an obscenity, much like different 4-letter phrases. I, and lots of others, now talk to it because of the “H word.”
H speech often leads to violence, because it did in Pittsburgh and, unfortunately, different locations. When we tone down our rhetoric, even though, we lessen the emotional effect of our words, and perhaps steer ourselves and others far from the wrong course. If you don’t like something, I urge you now not to say “I ‘H’ it.” Rather, say: “I don’t love it.” This easy act is essential to restore civil discourse to our society, buffeted as it has an increasing number of been by means of an excessive amount of uncivil discourse.
More than whatever, H speech famous the sadness of its author, who foists anger, disappointment and lack of confidence upon some other group and who is not able to for my part deal with existence’s challenges. When you blame others for what occurs to you, you transfer your perceived victimhood to them — in this situation, the Jewish community — and that they then emerge as the sufferers and the victimizers on the identical time. This demonstrates the absurdity of anti-Semitism: people who talk and act from bigotry try to stumble upon as victims, with the Jewish human beings as the supply of their troubles. The Jewish people, victims of this eternal plight, reply and make the bigot feel even extra victimized.
The Jewish community is resilient, having confronted, and persevering with to face, numerous varieties of anti-Semitism, one of the oldest sorts of H speech in existence. But even as H speech isn’t always going to disappear any time quickly, I even have visible that it does now not remotely replicate the attitude of all of the humans on earth. Within mins of the bloodbath at Tree of Life, phrases of affection flooded my email and social media bills. Strangers of various faiths shared in their grief and dismay and provided comfort, electricity, and hugs. The sheer quantity of conversation from people throughout the planet, which continues unabated, gives a loving reminder that the extensive majority of human beings on this planet are desirable, first-rate people. They felt my pain, and could not understand how a fellow individual ought to inflict such carnage upon different human beings. They wanted to reassure me that this isn’t always a reflection of humanity, however an aberration. And they may be right.
All people across the globe choice the same things for themselves and their households: a safe place to live, paintings and worship; enough meals and apparel; get right of entry to to excellent hospital treatment; the possibility to be the nice they may be without regulations; a government that has their pleasant hobbies at heart, that acts upon the ones pastimes; and joyous moments of birthday celebration. This is simply the fast listing. We are all a long way more alike than specific, and the outpouring of world love has reassured me that we are desirable and that the scales of lifestyles can’t be seriously tilted towards the bad because of the heinous acts of one man or woman.
Unfortunately, the pain cannot be removed, as we lamentably have found out from Parkland and Newtown and now Christchurch. There are times once I simply can not power through the Tree of Life. (We are presently worshipping in a distinctive synagogue.) I discover myself detouring to keep away from seeing the constructing. The manner of recovery isn’t always a consistent upward line on a graph, but greater like the peaks and valleys of an oscilloscope.