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feels familiar

10/12/2023 10:57:23 AM


Rabbi Jeffrey Myers

As I walked to the JCC on Sunday evening to participate in the rally in support of Israel, fellow walkers greeted me, tried to figure out the right thing to say, of which there was none, and we entered the building. The first person I saw on my left was one of the first two patrolmen who responded on 10.27 and was shot. We embraced and I thanked him for being here. His response of “Of course I would be here” was so uplifting. His bravery continues to amaze and inspire me. I then saw two other individuals engaged with security, and we embraced. That’s when it hit me, like a ton of bricks. Déjà vu.

This was the same place we gathered on 10.27, for a comparable reason. Same room. Some of the same people.  The words that flashed through my mind were staggering: horror; shock; disbelief; anger; evil; pain. That familiar hurt returned, the one deep in the pit of my stomach, but this time I recognized it for what it was. Trauma. I was experiencing retraumatization. Before, during, and after the rally, I recognized the signs in everyone I saw. Pittsburgh has been through this before. Words like “resilience”, “strength”, “comfort” and “Am Yisrael Chai” were the language of the evening, spoken and unspoken.

There are many far better spoken and informed than I who have said and will say much. My words began to take shape as a prayer:

May all of the captives be rescued and returned to their loved ones in safety. Amen.

May The Holy One embrace all the families who have suffered losses. Amen.

May my anger not yield to the H word, for we know that always leads to violence. Amen.

May the children of Abraham be able to find voices who can find a joint path of peace together. Amen.

May all the children of the region one day soon love themselves, so that they can then love their neighbors as themselves. Amen.

May the killing end. Amen.

I returned home, and as I sat down in my chair, I opened up my news feeds to read of the latest. That was a mistake. All of the numbers had increased: dead; wounded; captive. My hands began to shake. The pain returned. I quickly turned off my phone, and began controlled breathing. It gradually passed.  I just cannot look at social media or the news right now. But my trauma is nothing compared to my brothers and sisters in the State of Israel. You may be feeling the same as I, and that is okay. If I can help you through this difficult time, just reach out to me, and we will figure it out together.

You who makes peace in the heavens, bring peace upon us and upon all Israel, and let us say: Amen.   

Sat, December 9 2023 26 Kislev 5784