“Know that my church and I cherish Tiferet Israel and all our Jewish neighbors and friends. We will hold space tomorrow in our worship service as we recognize the pain that is so present and fresh for you”. These sentiments were expressed by our next door neighbor, Pastor Mike Gregg of Royal Lane Baptist Church in an E mail I received Saturday night, amidst the plethora of other E Mails I quickly read and discarded from any number of Jewish organizations falling over each other as they raced to inveigh their feelings about the mass murder that took place at Shabbat services in a Pittsburgh synagogue earlier that day.
After responding eloquently to Pastor Gregg for his touching words, a silent, yet powerful “gevaldt” rang through the air and invisible steam rose from my ears, as in my typical fashion, I reacted apoplectically to what was occurring as a result of the carnage in Pittsburgh. I cursed and damned Fox, CNN along with all the other sensationalist media outlets as they gave fodder to any number of border line “whack jobs” throughout the nation, who harbored similar thoughts and feelings towards Jews and could very well pull off a copycat carnage at another synagogue . Watching television news and reading about the massacre, pretty much guarantees these poor excuses for human beings the notoriety they seem to crave.
For those who felt the need to express solidarity and went and participated in programs; for those who gathered to recite tehilim(psalms) I hope it soothed the wounds that they seem to feel were inflicted upon them. I for one fail to see any connection between these efforts and the mitzvah of Nichum Aveilim or comforting the bereaved. Obviously, I am the minority, but for anyone who initially felt at a loss for words or actions, I would urge that the following three suggestions be taken to heart:
Write Fox, CNN as well as any other media outlet and express outrage for their capitalizing on Jewish blood. Reporting the incident is one thing. Exploiting it to increase viewership and inadvertently risking further Jewish blood being spilt by psychos in society is quite something else. Jewish blood is not for sale! And damned be those who contribute to such spillage!
The names of the victims have been publicized. For those for whom it was important enough to take the time and make the effort to attend the solidarity gatherings, I would hope that equal time could be taken and equal effort could be made to find the addresses of the bereaved families and come Chanukah, a note be sent expressing the feeling that our heritage is one where neither flames nor souls can be snuffed out. If such an effort is for whatever reason not doable, then send those letters to Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh.
Last but not least, remember that we Jews are stiff-necked people. It’s in our DNA. We Jews are contrarians! If what took place at Shabbat synagogue services in Pittsburgh was so devastating, has it occurred to anyone that the best response would be to attend Shabbat services this coming week and the week after that and the week after that? Let’s see how much coverage the news media gives us, thereby showing all Americans as well as those living in other countries how we respond to travesty. Shouldn’t we be done, wringing hands and beating our breasts? Let’s put the “Oy Vey’s” of the previous generation in the past. Seventy-five years ago, Hirsh Glick also responded to a carnage of our people. Here’s what he wrote: “un vu gefaln s’iz a shprits fun undzer blut, shprotsn vet dort undzer gvure, undzer mut”!
Wherever any drop of Jewish blood is spilled, there our bravery and courage will come to be filled.
May the souls of the victims find immediate repose up in heaven together with countless other souls whose lives were snuffed out over the centuries simply because they were Jews. May the victims of the families know that we are thinking of them, long after the emotional response of these past few days has been consigned to history.