Monday, October 29, 2018

Thoughts in Response to Pittsburg

These are the words I shared with Ma'yan Tikvah on Saturday evening after the shootings at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburg. --KZA


How are you this evening?

I suspect you are reacting to today's news of the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburg in many of the same ways I am – with grief, anger, sadness, despair, and other mixed emotions. It is frightening when the violence in our country hits close to home. It is painful to see the brokenness of our world and our communities, and to hear and feel the hatred that seems to be becoming the norm. It is disturbing to see anti-semitism acted out so violently.

Our hearts go out to the families and friends, and to the entire community in Pittsburg. And our hearts break.

At a time like this, there are no simple answers. There are, in fact, no answers. There are just questions and more questions, and so much emotion.

How each of us deals with the pain, how we respond, is so personal. What helps each of us get through loss and tragedy is individual. When I worked in the hospital, I often heard the three F's mentioned – family, friends, and faith. It is a time for us to acknowledge what can help us, and to turn toward others and toward our own personal tried and true emotional and spiritual resources to find the strength and the courage to not just go on, but to go on with wholeness.

Many community vigils are being planned. One will be held here in Wayland Monday evening, and there will be one in Boston on Sunday. If this kind of event feels helpful to you, there may be one in your town as well.

Ma'yan Tikvah is a small community and geographically diverse, but I welcome hearing from you, and I invite you to connect to others you know, simply to say hello, I'm thinking about you, I care about you. That is my message to you this evening, as well. I am thinking about you, holding you in my heart, and caring about you.

I offer you a few words from Jewish tradition that I hope may be helpful, first words from Rabbe Nachman of Breslov, who is known to have struggled with despair. Rebbe Nachman taught:
Know! A person walks in life on a very narrow bridge. The  most important thing is not to be afraid.
This evening, and in the days to come, the most important thing is not to be afraid. Let us find the courage not to get stuck in bitterness or fear, anger or despair, but to continue to open our hearts with love, compassion, and wisdom as we search for the strength to deal with the brokenness in our communities and in our world.

In memory of all those who were murdered today, from the words of the memorial prayer, the El Malei Rachamim:
Oh G!d full of mercy, Who dwells on high, grant proper rest beneath the wings of the Shechina (Divine Presence) to those taken from us today...Please, Compassionate One, provide rest for their souls; never withdraw Your protective wings, and bind up their souls in the bonds of life. May the Holy One be their resting everlasting inheritance and peaceful resting place, and let us say: Amen.
At the end of Shabbat, we say Shavua tov – may you have a good week. May each of us find a way to help, in some small way, to make this week a good week.

Shavua tov,

Rabbi Katy

Rabbi Katy Allen is the founder and rabbi of Ma'yan Tikvah - A Wellspring of Hope, which holds services outdoors all year long, and the co-founder and President pro-tem of the Boston-based Jewish Climate Action Network. She is a board certified chaplain and serves as an Eco-Chaplain and the Facilitator of One Earth Collaborative, a program of Open Spirit, and is a former hospital and hospice chaplain. She received her ordination from the Academy for Jewish Religion in Yonkers, NY in 2005 and lives in Wayland, MA, with her spouse, Gabi Mezger, who leads the singing at Ma'yan Tikvah.

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