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show for shul

11/10/2022 08:59:19 AM


Rabbi Jeffrey Myers

This has indeed been quite a week. Election Day, the commemoration of Kristallnacht, and Veteran’s Day all together. Truth be told, it has been quite a month. Electioneering and ugly campaigning have left a bad taste in the mouth of many. Most of it has risen to the level of H speech, which promotes and encourages all citizens to speak and behave in the same manner as the advertisements. But that has not been the sole focus on my mind these few months. Antisemitism has been, for good reason. If ever you wondered how influential social media can be, you now know.

Antisemitic posts reach tens of millions of people, spewing H speech amid falsehoods, conspiracy theories, ancient canards and blaming the Jews for everything wrong on this planet. While I appreciate those who do speak up and reject antisemitism, too many remain silent. And silence is complicity.

When a threat is posted by the FBI as a warning to all synagogues in NJ, that is just unacceptable. It caused at least one synagogue that I know of to cancel in-person services for two weeks. It made people afraid to attend services. It let the antisemites win. I can recall meeting someone at a gathering in December 2018. This person owned a business downtown, and the store was regularly festooned with decorations for the winter holidays. Out of an abundance of caution and fear for the safety of employees, the owner opted not to display Chanukah decorations. I replied that I understood and appreciated the concerns for employees’ safety, but by eliminating the Chanukah decorations, you let the antisemites win.

Many have asked me, “What do we do?”. My regular response is: When they do more antisemitism, we do more Jewish. But how? I have one way.

The 18th of Heshvan is a precious date to the Jewish community of Pittsburgh. It is the corresponding Hebrew date to October 27. The fourth yahrtzeit occurs this year on this coming Shabbat. “Show for Shul” is the answer. When the antisemites try to terrorize us, forcing us to reconsider how we show our Jewishness, if at all, the answer is to “Show for Shul”. We find comfort and reassurance when we gather as a community. How much more so to observe the fourth yahrtzeit?

I will be lighting eleven yahrtzeit candles just before Shabbat begins. Perhaps you too might do the same, or at least one? We will hold a special Yizkor service during Shabbat morning services. We will rise as one and recite the Mourner’s Kaddish. This is most likely unique to Pittsburgh if not the Tree of Life. You are most warmly welcome to pray with us, in person or remotely.

The antisemites will come and go. We are still here. Am Yisrael Chai!  The Tree of Life lives.

Wed, February 28 2024 19 Adar I 5784