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it takes a community

10/28/2021 09:38:38 AM


Rabbi Jeffrey Myers

There is no way to prepare oneself for the remembrances and commemorations of 10.27. There is that slowly creeping dread that grows a bit stronger each day. This year it felt like one long day from Saturday evening, when the yahrtzeitin commenced, through the commemoration at 4:30PM at Schenley Park on Wednesday. It was interspersed with various media interviews, local, national and international. Then comes the days after, as the hustle and bustle quiets once again, and we try to pick up the scattered pieces of our lives that took nearly one year from the prior observances to finally fit back together. Does it ever get easier? I don’t know. Ask me in ten years.

The most comforting aspect to me this year was the ability to gather safely in person, even with appropriate protocols in place. Yet despite the protocols, we just needed to hug one another. There is something indescribable about a tight, emotional, teary hug that unites us, shares solace, and connects us in ways we don’t understand. We missed that last year due to COVID restrictions. This year, we were not going to miss that opportunity. I felt that if I could somehow absorb a bit of the pain of the other, then it was my duty to try.

The support from the community, and from people around the country and the world continues to amaze me. It also reassures me, as the good people step up by stepping over the shallow souls of those who spew H, to tell me that they care, and that there are far more good people around than not. I received an incredible number of songs that people composed in tribute and remembrance, an unsolicited sharing of talents that express the innermost feelings of these composers and how 10.27 impacted them, regardless of their personal faith. What an uplifting feeling it is to receive such warm notes and moving compositions from strangers, many thousands of miles away who were deeply impacted, people that I have never met.

It is through community that we have persevered and will continue to do so. COVID did not weaken the bonds of our community. Rather, it reinforced that the Tree of Life is a sacred community no matter where we gather: in our temporary, beautiful home at Rodef Shalom; around the beautiful windscreens that grace the perimeter of Tree of Life; under a tent at CMU; in Schenley Park; through the wonder of technology that enables us to gather virtually; at Tree of Life Memorial Park as we bury a loved one. We are resilient and strong, and while we are temporarily displaced, we will return to the Tree of Life, for evil only temporarily dislodged us. We suffered horrific losses, but evil did not win. It is a constant reminder to the entire world that there are far too many people headed down the wrong path, and it will take all of humanity, that vast silent majority, to speak up and resolutely proclaim: NO! This is not the way of humanity. We reject your evil ways, and demand better of all people. Until that day, there is much work to do, and we are not absolved from trying.

Sun, May 22 2022 21 Iyyar 5782