- Posted by Elaine Zecher
- On May 3, 2019
- 0 Comments
Welcome to Shabbat Awakenings, a weekly reflection as we move toward Shabbat.
This last week has been frightening, terrifying even.
From Poway, California to the New York Times to Yom Hashoah, our yearly remembrance of the Holocaust, rocked whatever hopeful high we may have had from the experience of Passover.
The crumbs of matzah hadn’t yet been vacuumed before bullets of bigotry ripped life away from an innocent Shabbat greeter at her synagogue. The rabbi who heard the sound of the bang of the gun ran into the entryway thinking Lori Gilbert Kaye had tripped and fallen. Instead, he faced the barrel of the gun. He and his congregants had been trained so he ran to where the children were even though he was wounded and yelled that they should get out of the building.
We sing Dayenu on Passover as a celebration of all the good. Each one, the Torah, Shabbat, the Exodus, would have been enough. Dayenu was turned on its head with an egregious cartoon depiction of Trump and Netanyahu in the New York Times. As Bret Stephens wrote in an Opinion piece of the same newspaper, “The cartoon checked so many anti-semitic boxes that the only thing missing was a dollar sign.” The caricatures would have been bad enough—Dayenu—but, as Stephens pointed out, the lone international edition editor without adequate oversight couldn’t even recognize the cartoon as anti-semitic in the first place.
And then, this past Thursday marked Yom Hashoah, a reminder of hatred unchecked, bigotry and prejudice unfurled, and the silence of others near and far who did not and often could not repel the horrific assault on our people. History has shown that hatred and genocide lie in wait like a virus lurking in the bloodstream of societies.
There is good reason to be fearful, intimidated, frightened, and full of dread. The Hebrew word, pachad, means to tremble, but our hearts cannot harden from it.
There is another word for fear, yarei. It connotes a digging deeper into oneself to discover reverence and awe. We may still tremble as we find a kind of strength to persevere, but we will prevail. We are like water that finds a way to keep flowing, waters of life and hope, which nourish and comfort us even when darkness clouds the light.
Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, though wounded and had his finger shot off from the hate filled gunman wrote: “I pray that my missing finger serves as a constant reminder to me. A reminder that every single human being is created in the image of God; a reminder that I am part of a people that has survived the worst destruction and will always endure; a reminder that my ancestors gave their lives so that I can live in freedom in America; and a reminder, most of all, to never, ever, not ever be afraid to be Jewish.”
Earlier this week, many of us sat in Levi Auditorium to remember the Holocaust. We heard an inspiring true story from Lilly Salcman, who survived the concentration camp, Birkenau. She was interviewed by her daughter, our member, Suzanne Salamon, and granddaughter, Alex, who grew up at TI, one on each side of her. When we lit the six candles of memory, we invited everyone and anyone who was remembering someone who had died in the Holocaust. The line was long but also a testimony to the legacy of those who died honored by those who stood up to remember them.
It has been a tough week and we will find strength as we turn fear into faith and a great sense of purpose, courage, and awe. Judaism and we will not only survive but also thrive.
Let’s gather tonight to find the warm embrace of one another and Shabbat at 6:00 p.m. for Qabbalat Shabbat. Join us HERE to live stream if you cannot attend. Most of our 6th graders will be away together for a Kallah in the Berkshires. I will be with them.
Saturday morning brings Shabbat Torah Study starting at 9:00 a.m. with a brief service and Torah reading. Join in for a lively discussion.
Share your thoughts and reflections with me HERE.