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I Will Not Yield My Hope

11/05/2018 05:36:20 PM


Last Shabbat, hundreds of people come into our Sanctuary to stand in solidarity, in prayer and in mourning.

The Torah portion, Chayei Sarah tells of our matriarch’s death. The very beginning uses two verbs to describe Abraham’s actions: “Sarah died...and Abraham proceeded to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her.” (Genesis 23:2) The term for “to mourn” is connected to the word “to eulogize.” Part of the way we mourn is to remember and to speak about the memory of the one who has died. The verse describes Abraham eulogizing his wife and weeping while he does it. We can follow the same path…. If we only weep over this tragedy, then we miss our chance to speak what Judaism and Jewish values represent. If we remember without grieving, we mischaracterize Jewish mourning.

We need both: to remember the power of community, to remember our Covenant with hope, to celebrate life and creation through a Jewish lens, and to weep over the tragic, senseless murder of innocents in the midst of their prayers…. Like Abraham, we mourn and we weep.

I invite you to watch and hear my message from Friday night.

I also share the song, Tree of Life, written by Nefesh Mountain, a Jewish bluegrass duo, and the poem My Name is Jew, and I Want My Name Back, by Rabbi Zoe Klein Miles of Temple Isaiah in Los Angeles.

Now that the first week has past, please…let us not move this experience to a corner in our memory. There are things we can still do.

My suggestions:

  • Show up in your synagogue. It doesn’t matter when or how. Join us for services, come to Torah study or our monthly lunch and learn. Showing up in life is one of our most sacred tasks.

  • Support the Anti-Defamation League with your act of tzedakah. The ADL acts to combat hate and intolerance and to protect Jews and others.

  • Support any charity or non-profit that does good in the world in memory of those who were killed. Tzedakah is our responsibility.

  • Consider a gift to the Our Victims of Terror Fund at the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh to help those directly affected by this latest round of unspeakable violence.

  • Urge Congress to enact the No HATE Act (S.662 /H.R. 1566) to improve training and response to hate and violence. The Act would provide incentives for hate crime reporting, grants for state-run hate crime hotlines, a federal private right of action for victims of hate crimes and additional sentencing options for individuals convicted under the Matthew Shephard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Visit the ADL Take Action page to learn what you can do.

  • Bring a Turkey to Har HaShem to help feed the hungry and give the vulnerable in our city a meaningful Thanksgiving.

  • Light Shabbat candles at home. Embracing our Jewish experiences is not only an act of defiance toward hate, but an act of honor to those who made sure these traditions continued through centuries of antisemitsm and oppression.

  • Support our Annual Campaign to enable our synagogue to be a light in people’s lives and a beacon in our community. Embrace the value of tzedakah and demonstrate the power of Judaism.

May the memory of the righteous be an enduring blessing. And may you continue to go from strength to strength.

Fri, June 9 2023 20 Sivan 5783