Sure as we lay tefillin on bruised bodies, and walk cautiously down the halls of seminaries, and sure as we collectively hold our breaths as we drop off frightened children to learn in locked down synagogues, religious schools and camps, in the months to come after this horrible day, we will remember our lightness unto nations and to G-d.
נֵר יְהוָה נִשְׁמַת אָדָם
The soul of a person is the light of G-d.
By living, breathing and being Jewish in the world we are filling light’s absence with our abundance.
And though we may feel inclined to lament our lack of safety, to be twisted to a state of hopelessness because of the real, ongoing and immobilizing cycle of anti-Semitic violence, we must remember that as we pray, yearn, gather, vote, fight for ourselves and for the specific struggles of others who are the stranger—all this as Jews—we are providing the very antidote to an indifferent man’s idolatry.
In sensing and rising to meet the needs of the particular, we will transform the Apathetic discourse of All into actions of a powerful, moving, Us.
Our grief is not the end.
Our tears will be our seeds.
And our Jewishness will plant a world in which each of us, in all our identities and vulnerabilities—refugees, immigrants, poor people, queer people, people of color, Jews, Muslims—are seen as necessary branches on the growing Tree of Life.
Universalistic and rote prayers will not get us there.
But the angels that will rescue the righteous, as from the depths of Sodom?
They exist to be awakened within each of us.
So, open your eyes and despite the brokenness, my People, act to lift up, to answer the calls of others and our own, and always, always, always to rise.
We are, we can and we will.