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five years later

10/26/2023 10:48:08 AM


Rabbi Jeffrey Myers

I’m constantly asked how I or the congregation or community is doing five years later. I had been wondering about the answer for months prior to the conclusion of the trial and started to see hints of potential healing once the trial concluded. Smiles returned to people’s faces. Even laughter. I began to think “Maybe we will get through this” when the attack on Israel came. I’ve written previously about re-traumatization, but there is one additional aspect that people might not be cognizant of. As the days continue and the media offers their varied accounting of facts, one truth remains: the Tree of Life is mentioned in the news every single day. Not simply because the fifth commemoration is approaching, but the rise of antisemitic acts here and abroad has increased dramatically. And we are the poster child for antisemitism in America.

The FBI releases every year a report on H crimes, compiled by CJIS, the Criminal Justice Information Services. I had the honor of being a guest speaker at their facilities near the end of August, and was incredibly impressed by this group of men and women dedicated not only to providing data that can be as accurate as possible to identify trends and provide tools for law enforcement to be more responsive, but they are all dedicated to eliminating H. To read this report, you can go to this site: While it may not prove surprising to some, H crimes against Jews in the United States rose by 37%, a record high. With the dramatic increase over the past few weeks, I would not be surprised to learn that next year’s figures surpass this year’s. And you want to know how I’m doing?

Despite my best efforts, it is not possible to extract the emotional toll of the war in Israel from the fifth commemoration, as both are components of whom I am. I likewise cannot suggest that x% is Israel and y% the commemoration. They meld seamlessly. Thus, the daily mentioning of Tree of Life in the media keeps 10.27 alive as a constant reminder. Inescapable. The best answer to “How are you doing?” is to repeat the question in the first person with a shrug of the shoulders. As my Israeli friends have been saying: Ein Milim. There are no words. Just when you think that the wound is healing, the scab is ripped off once again, and you resume the process, like the Greek myth of Sisyphus who cheated death twice, and was punished by Hades, the god of the underworld, to roll an immense boulder up a hill, only to have it roll back down to the bottom. Just as it seems to have healed, it gets ripped off again. And again. And again.

Surviving a mass shooting means learning to live with these experiences, incorporating them into your being, and utilizing the tools in your toolbox to work through them. I’d like to think that most of the time I’m successful. Now comes the fifth commemoration, on top of already frayed nerves. It will be difficult. I’ve gotten through it every year so far and imagine that I will once again. But that does not mean that it is easy. It takes a toll. And then comes the yahrtzeit on November 1, where we do it all over again. The trick is not to let the boulder run you over on the way down.  

May the memory of the eleven victims always be for a blessing.


Sat, December 9 2023 26 Kislev 5784