29 Oct Standing in Solidarity
First the shock, the disbelief and later the grief and anger. I woke up again this morning with a nauseous, tight feeling deep in my stomach; tears still spring quickly to my eyes. How could a week filled with hate crimes, from bombs sent to those with opposing political stances to attempted shootings in an African American church, end on a Shabbat with 11 Jews murdered in their synagogue?! These were men and women my age (I’m 54) and older who were simply participating in their community. How does a women live a full 97 years only to end her life with an angry bullet in her place of worship? How do two African Americans just doing some grocery shopping end their lives on the floor of the store? I guess I should ask why I’m still surprised by evil. I don’t mean to sound cynical or pessimistic but history has proven just how despicably people can behave towards one another. One of the responses in a thread on Facebook I read yesterday made me think. A Jewish woman responded to a Gentile who asked why so many in the Jewish community were resigned or sad and not angry about this invasion in their shul. She said, “This is only about the thousandth, if not ten-thousandth, that Jews have been killed in a synagogue. The sadness is in knowing it will probably repeat.” Anti-Semitism is not new; we have had our Hamans, Hitlers and Husseins. Evil is not new. There is nothing new under the sun (Kohelet 1:9-10).
This morning I also read my Bible. 2000 years ago a great Rabbi taught by the Kinneret in northern Israel, “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment.” (Matthew 5:21-22a). This teaching takes us way beyond the law given to Moses by penetrating the depths of the human heart. So even while I’m furious with the perpetrators of these horrific acts and I stand in solidarity with my Jewish people in Pittsburgh and around the world, I should not be surprised. What the Rabbi Yeshua from Nazareth taught me propels me far beyond the laws of this earth. He has called me to behave as a citizen of another kingdom – the Kingdom of Heaven. So I will not hate the perpetrators of these atrocities; instead I will pray for them and I will pray for those families they destroyed. And as long as I have breath on this earth, I will spread the message of a peace and joy that surpasses understanding and circumstances. Won’t you please stand with me to do the same?
Written by Laura Barron, Missionary