Three years ago, a gunman entered the Tree of Life Synagogue where he killed eleven innocent souls and wounded six more. As we honor the victims and hold their loved ones in our hearts, and even as years three years have passed, I am still jolted by this tragedy. The pain, the anger and mourning were all necessary in the days, weeks, and months that followed; each of those elements helping us to hold one another as we moved through another barbaric and senseless terror attack – this time by a murdering Jew hater.
Just as we mourn loss through life’s normative and tragic moments, I am mindful that these moments also offer an opportunity to pause – to consider where we are in our individual lives and in our communities. The Psalmist teaches: “From out of the depth, I call to you, God” (Psalm 130:1) This year, I invite us to lean into that depth and pause…to check in on our priorities, to hug our loved ones and access perspective. Let us ask ourselves: What am I doing? What is my part? Are we stepping up our awareness of others and speaking out when we see injustice around us? Are we practicing compassion and respect towards people we do not understand or even like? Are we paying attention to the words we use when we are talking to and about others? Are we taking on the responsibility of being change agents, both by how we walk in the world and by taking action on those things we wish to change?
Our Beth Israel community continues to walk that talk. Whether working to combat antisemitism on the local or national level, bringing comfort to countless individuals through our Caring Community, the Hunger Project; creating varied opportunities for learning and advocacy, and offering prayerful moments to so many each and every week, we continue to reflect and assess and be the change we wish to see in the world!
In memory of those souls innocently lost three years ago, I say: while we all may long for something else, let’s work for something more and lean into what is yet to be.
May the memories of those lost ever inspire and be for a blessing.
Rabbi Jason Nevarez