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Prayer for the Shabbat After Pittsburgh

Prayer for the Shabbat After Pittsburgh

Commemorating the 2nd anniversary of the Tree of Life massacre
Adapted from Prayer by Rabbi Michael Strassfeld

The Torah calls upon us to rise and honor our elders. Instead, in the fall of 2018 we sat shiva for our elders.
Those to whom we look for wisdom on how to navigate this world.
Od yenuvun be-seivah desheinim ve-ra’ananim yeheyu—in old age they still produce fruit; they are full of sap and freshness (Ps. 92: 15).
How did seivah—old age—become shiva—sitting in shock for untimely death?
Rose Mallinger, 97
Melvin Wax, 88
Bernice and Sylvan Simon, 84 and 86
Joyce Fienberg, 75
Daniel Stein, 71
Irving Younger, 69
Jerry Rabinowitz, 66
Richard Gottfried, 65
Cecil Rosenthal, 59
David Rosenthal, 54
Yet in the face of the encroaching darkness, we gather and hold hands proclaiming our humanity.
Long ago, we ate of the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil. We know good and evil. Each week we strive to separate darkness from light, brokenness from wholeness, helping from harming.
For there was another tree in the Garden of Eden. Each week we grasp that Tree of Life as we return the Torah scroll to the ark. We hold on to that Torah even as another eleven have joined the too long list of Jews who were killed only because they were Jews.
Their deaths were not a kiddush hashem—a sanctification of God’s name. Their deaths were a horrible tragedy.
The kiddush hashem/sanctification of God’s name is how we will live our lives in the light of their lives.
We will continue to choose life over death, caring over callousness, meaning over meanness.
Od lo avdah tikvateinu—we will not lose hope.
We will organize. We will help. We will march. We will reach out. We will lobby. We will have compassion and we will vote.
The time of mourning is past. It is time to get up from shiva.
It is the time to stand—to stand up and cry out:
Ha-shoftei ha-aretz lo ya’asu mishpat?—Shall the rulers of this land not stand up for justice?
For even if the messiah tarries we still believe:
Tzedek tzedek tirdof—Justice, justice you shall surely pursue.

Tue, April 13 2021 1 Iyyar 5781