If you are reading this you may love me or know me. You may care deeply about Jews. You may care deeply about Pittsburgh or America or humanity. You may be Jewish or you may not be. Maybe to you my religious beliefs should has no bearing on how you see me. Maybe you “hate” Jews and are reading this and I can share some thoughts with you. Either way you are reading this for a reason.
My religion has a huge bearing on who I am. Much of my identity as a Jew is self-imposed but today was different because I am again reminded that it is beyond my control what people think about me and those I love and that where I gather and what I believe can put me in danger.
Thanks toall those who reached out to me today or who publicly expressed their feelings about the shooting in Pittsburgh or you — who is taking the time you read this. Thanks to the city of Pittsburgh and all the cities who now have staffed extra security around synagogues and come out against anti-semitism. Thanks to law enforcement who went in risking their lives to save people they did not know. Thanks the media who has done a tremendous job of humanizing and covering this national trauma and helped us come together as a nation.
I write these thoughts gutted.
I just spoke to my 12 year old to explain what happened. I explained to her that there are people in the world who hate herbut don’t even know her and hate her for something she loves and cares deeply about. I explained to her the burden I have carried my whole life knowing that people were out there that hate me and once in a while it rears it head with devastating consequences. With my voice trembling. I explained that in her great- grandmothers lifetime a feeling so deep came over the world that it wiped out her family and half of our people. My twelve year old gently grabbed my hand and held it tight — something she does less and less these days. She sat silently for a minute nad then she related my feelings to the feelings she felt when they were sheltered in place beacause of an active shooter at a nearby school. She related it to where someone in her class said something offensive and racist and the whole class was forced to confront the reality that those among them had said something unconscionable. I walked away from our conversation sad that she now knows about the burdens she will carry in her life but confident that her abilities will lessen that burden for others in the world.
I generally try to be a balanced person and not make it about wedge issue.
I don’t want to make this about gun control — BUT — I struggle to see why people can have a weapon that can kill that many people so quickly. I just don’t get that. I am mad at a world where my children practice shelter in place rules and pass a security guard to enter our synagogue
I don’t want this to be political — Everyone on either side of the table — republican or democrat are united and steadfast in their horror- BUT- I was challenged by my rabbi today who pointed out that a leader sets the tone for what is permissible on the fringes (at least at first on the fringes) and our president and all politicians have the obligation to reduce not stoke those embers that clearly still exist.
I don’t want this to be terrorism but in Europe the Jews are subject to radicalized Islamic Terrorists. In America the terrorists are White Supremacists who have become radicalized.
I don’t want this to be about being a dangerous world where it is hard to do what we do — BUT — This is not only about anti-semitism. It is about where we gather and when we gather there can be danger. When someone attacks someone for who or where they are be it kids in a school or Jews in a synagogue they go to where they gather
I want this to be about what we do tomorrow, what YOU do tomorrow. There will always be hate out there — we must not give it oxygen and we must speak out against hatred of our neighbors
I heard from my grandma today who escaped the holocaust and came to this country as a refugee who told me that today we are reminded of who we are — we are “survivors” and in her case at 93 with 14 great grandchildren and a loving, tolerant and thriving family she is certainly right but she is also gutted to see at the end of her life the beginning of the hate that tore her life apart when she was the same age as my daughter.
There are more good people in this country and in this world than bad people. It is easy to lose sight of that but we shouldn’t. Lets move forward, hug your neighbor, listen to your friend and celebrate what makes us different and the same and don’t let those on the fringes dictate the tone of this amazing world.