- Posted by Elaine Zecher
- On November 2, 2018
- 0 Comments
My heart is in the East and I am at the edge of the West.
The philosopher and rabbi, Yehuda Halevi wrote these words in the 12th century as he tried to make his way to the land of Israel. His poetry expressed his longing to be there though he remained away from it.
I thought about these words as I boarded a plane last Saturday—Shabbat. I had had the pleasure of celebrating with the Finard family as their daughter, Murray, became a Bat Mitzvah. As we joyfully exited the sanctuary after the service, Rabbi Jacobson, was waiting for me to share the terrible news of the massacre at the synagogue in Pittsburgh.
It was a personal piece of information just as much as it was communal. As someone who grew up in and around Pittsburgh with parents born in the heart of Squirrel Hill, that synagogue was part of our family discussions of Jewish life. Though I grew up in a close suburb, Squirrel Hill was a second home. Grief stricken, I left for the airport to participate in a remarkable experience called Encounter for American Jewish leaders to learn, to listen, and to interact with Palestinian peacemakers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. I look forward to sharing with you my reflections at another time.
During the trip, the poet’s words filled my head but were inverted.
My heart remained in the West while I journeyed to the edge of the East.
This week has been heart wrenching as the stories poured in of the members of the Tree of Life congregation whose lives were stolen from them. A very close friend of my aunt was among the dead. My brother and sister in law lost people they knew as well. We have all tried to make sense of that which is senseless: hatred unleashed in its most heinous expression toward Jews and support for immigrants. In our synagogues, we teach goodness, kindness, and the value of welcoming. Suffocated by his loathing, a murdering madman went in set on destruction.
What has come out is the deluge of love and support. So many have stepped forward from the interfaith community and within our own congregation to stand together in faith and strength. Even as we have work to do to overcome anti-semitism, gun violence, and bigotry, we mourn and grieve for the eleven who have died, pray for the speedy recovery to those wounded and send healing blessings to those who have been traumatized. And let me add, we will not be terrorized but instead find courage in one another.
This is why we have invited our greater community, which encompasses our Temple Israel family along with our many beloved interfaith partners and their congregations and clergy as well as our devoted civic leaders to be present this Shabbat evening for a Qabbalat Shabbat of Comfort, Community, and Courage. We need each other to move forward. We can and we will.
I am now back home here in the west and my heart, though broken, remains here with you.
Tonight at 6:00 p.m. join us for Qabbalat Shabbat of Comfort, Community, and Courage. Live stream HERE.
The Temple Israel LGBTQ community hosts our first ever joint Family Shabbat Program with Keshet and the Village for Families with Young Children at 5:00 p.m. for a pre-neg dinner.
The Riverway Project (20s & 30s) joins the greater Temple Israel community for Qabbalat Shabbat of Comfort, Community, and Courage with Soul Food Friday dinner to follow.
Torah Study begins at 9:00 a.m tomorrow with a short service followed by a lively discussion.
I look forward to your thoughts and reflections, please send them to me directly HERE.