I know I've been absent for a long time. We have had a hard month and family has come first. I see a lot of bloggers air their dirty laundry as they write personal details that shock and surprise. That is not me. Just know, my husband and I will be fine, as well as the rest of the family.
I am deeply saddened by the anti-Semitic attack in Pittsburgh. As a Jew, this hits too close to home. I am also mortified that Mike Pence would see it as appropriate to comfort Jews with a Messianic "rabbi." That was horrendous! I pray for the world and our country because we are currently in a very bad place, as our POTUS spreads hate and fear that has energized the crazies. I also see him trying to strip away our basic human rights and constitution. It is vital that our country provides checks and balances on the monster in office.
A MESSAGE FROM RABBI SKOFF
October 29, 2018
Rose Mallinger, 97 years old, born in 1921. Her eyes had seen anti-semitism and had also experienced renewed hope. Her Judaism had been tested and she had found her way back to Shul, to Shabbat, to prayer. And Rose Mallinger was killed, murdered in the Sanctuary, at prayer, during the Shabbat, her day of rest.
We bow our heads in sadness and grief for the families of Rose and the other 10 murder victims whose lives ended last Shabbat in Shul. Like the martyrs in our High Holy Day Prayer Book, they died because they were Jewish. We extend our support as well to the families of the four police officers who came on the scene and tried to apprehend the murderer and were wounded in that noble mission.
My sister lives one block from the Tree of Life Synagogue. From her front door, one can look out and see the building. One passes three or four different synagogues on a walk through that neighborhood.
A few years ago, the synagogue where my sister belonged was damaged because of a fire, and for her son, my nephew's Bar Mitzvah, Tree of Life Synagogue opened its doors and hosted the Bar Mitzvah. I sat in that Sanctuary; I took an Aliyah on that Bimah; I went downstairs to that basement; I entered and exited through those doors. It was a house of worship and love and community on that day. On Saturday, it turned into a graveyard.
Ironically, we at Park were reading Torah at 10 a.m. last Saturday and answering questions on the separation of milk and meat. Milk and meat are separated in Jewish religion, but why? Because milk represents the human instinct to preserve and nurture life, just as a mother's milk serves to sustain her infant. Eating meat represents the human instinct to destroy life, as we do each time a cow is slaughtered to produce the steak that appears on our plate.
To eat an animal that was once alive and is no longer, and to wash it down with milk, the substance meant to keep that animal alive, is ugly, cruel, gross, vindictive. It is Treif. Separate them! Don't trespass life with death!
On Saturday, a synagogue, a place meant to nurture, elevate, sustain and enhance life, was trespassed and became a place of murder, of death, of slaughter.
Anti-Semitism is alive in America. The Anti-Semitic feelings of racists and bigots have now translated into actions. The Anti-Semite appears to feel more empowered in 21st Century America, emboldened, feeling somehow protected in the "mission" to "kill all the Jews," to quote Robert Bowers, the Pittsburgh assassin.
I was born with a figurative "third ear." It is an ear inherited from a Jewish tradition that has lived on every continent and in countries all over the globe. It is a 3rd ear which I inherit from my ancestors, and it hears not only the words spoken but what the words symbolize or imply in a deeper sense. My 3rd ear keeps me up at night, and it has left me sleep deprived since Saturday.
I applaud that President Trump called this act "hateful poison." Needed words. The President said this is "something you wouldn't believe could still be going on," and reminded us all that "Jews have endured terrible persecution for centuries." Necessary and strong statements. However, my 3rd ear began to ring when the President suggested that "an armed guard at the synagogue would have been able to stop (the murderer)," and that "maybe nobody would have been killed." My 3rd ear began to ache when the President repeated this four and five times in those first hours, placing responsibility for the deaths on the lack of synagogue security, implying that a synagogue guard would have been able to stop a gunman with a semi-automatic AR-15 rifle, a weapon used in the military.
While every house of worship would do well to increase security after Saturday, the suggestion, intentional or not, that responsibility for these deaths rests on the synagogue and on synagogue security - - what I hear with my 3rd ear is what Jews have sadly heard throughout our history:
YOU'RE ON YOUR OWN.
Anti-Semites around? It's tragic, it's poison - - YOU'RE ON YOUR OWN.
Anti-Semitism on the rise, neighborhood feeling unsafe? Very sad, but, YOU'RE ON YOUR OWN.
Unable to practice your faith freely without fears, sorry to hear that, good luck - - YOU'RE ON YOUR OWN.
Maybe I misunderstood, maybe I'm overly sensitive, but I have inherited the 3rd ear of my grandfather in Poland, when pogroms attacked Jewish villages and our people were told, YOU'RE ON YOUR OWN.
Next week we observe the anniversary of Kristallnacht, when Jewish stores and synagogues were looted and burned down in Germany, and our people were told, YOU'RE ON YOUR OWN.
That is why our ancestors came to this country from Europe, because in Europe, the message to us was YOU'RE ON YOUR OWN.
We expect more in America. We assert our right to more in America. We expect, we demand civility from our leaders in a land where tolerance is supposed to be promoted and diversity celebrated, where violence and hateful words are challenged and punished, and disagreement doesn't need to lead to cruelty.
What is needed is far more than adding a guard to every building, it is to guard against speech that bullies, insults, mocks and vilifies everyone who is different than you or disagrees with you.
By the time violence reaches the guard at the door, it may be too late. Needed is to guard against labeling every other group as your enemy, reducing the world to "us and them." Stopping the crime of murder means first stopping the anger that preceded it and which is being fueled today by angry public dialogue.
Rose Mallinger, Jew, became Robert Bowers' "enemy" the day she was born 97 years ago. Why? Because someone told him so. And he felt emboldened to act upon it. She deserved better, as do we all, in the United States of America. She expected more than "YOU'RE ON YOUR OWN."
We are America. Our condolences and deepest thoughts and prayers go out to the families of our American Jewish martyrs.