The following is a transcript of a speech delivered by Rabbi Annie Lewis at a vigil for Charlottesville in Philadelphia on Sunday, August 13, 2017.
Good evening. Thank you to all of the organizers and speakers at tonight’s vigil.
We stand here tonight with broken hearts.
As our hearts break again and again and again, we are filled with sadness and indignation and a love that will not give up.
We begin with a moment of silence in memory of those who were killed in Charlottesville – Hether Heyer, Lt. H. Jay Cullin and Trooper-Pilot Berke MM Bates.
We hold in our hearts all those who are injured, all those who are shaken and in need of healing, in Charlottesville and all around our country.
In the words of the prophet Jeremiah, “Thus said the Lord: A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping, Lavan's younger daughter and Jacob's beloved wife second wife (after he is initially tricked into marrying her older sister, Leah). Rachel grieves throughout her life that she is barren while Leah is so fertile. Ultimately, Rachel gives birth to Joseph and dies in childbirth with Benjamin. Rachel is remembered as compassionate (she is said to still weep for her children), and infertile women often invoke Rachel as a kind of intercessor and visit her tomb on the road to Bethlehem. weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are no more.” (Jeremiah 31:15)
In the Jewish calendar, we recently marked the saddest day of the year, the 9th day of the Hebrew month of Av. It’s a day when we mourn the destruction of our ancient temple. It’s a day when we lament all traumas across time and space triggered by the fires of causeless hatred. On that day we cry, we lament, and we weep.
Then, the cycle of our year carries us into a period of consolation.
We are now in a period known as the seven weeks of consolation.
But this year, we do not find comfort.
Like our mother Rachel, we refuse to be comforted.
We will not be comforted while white supremacists march through the streets of Charlottesville fanning the flames of hatred.
We will not be comforted while those in the White House fuels the fires of white supremacy.
We will not be comforted while those filled with hate terrorize African Americans, Jews, Muslims, people of color, Native Americans, women, immigrants, our LGBTQ family, those with disabilities and those who stand with us.
We will not be comforted while the family of Heather Heyer weeps for their daughter who is no more.
We will not be comforted while the parents of Michael Brown cry out for justice.
We will not be comforted while the parents of Sandra Bland cry out for justice.
We will not be comforted while the parents of Tamir Rice and Trayvon Martin and countless other black women and men killed by law enforcement officers cry out for justice.
We will not be comforted while Nazi flags and Confederate flags fly in the streets of our country; and while nooses hang in our neighborhoods.
We will not be comforted while trans women of color are murdered.
We will not be comforted while the gravestones of our ancestors are desecrated.
We will not be comforted while The genocide of millions of European Jews--as well as other ethnic, religious and minority groups--by the Nazis during World War II. The tragic events of the Holocaust are now commemorated each year on Yom HaShoah; established in 1952 by the Israeli government. Shoah (calamity) has become the term used to describe the systemic mass slaughter that occurred during World War II. survivors anguish over whether those who deny their suffering will attempt to repeat the atrocities they lived through – here in America.
We will not be comforted until we tell the stories that need to be told about this country’s legacy of slavery and dismantle the systems of racism and white supremacy.
We will not be comforted while children go to sleep fearing deportation.
We will not be comforted while white supremacy poisons the waters of our cities and starves our public schools.
We will not be comforted while consumption and capital are continually put before human lives, and the earth that gives us life.
We will not be comforted.
We will not be comforted until racism, Anti-Semitism, sexism, classism, homophobia, transphobia and Islamophobia are no more.
We will not be comforted until the dignity of all human beings created in the image of God is recognized and affirmed.
We will not be comforted!
And we will not be comfortable!
We will not be comforted and we will not be comfortable.
We will not stop crying out, standing up and working for justice.
We will not stop resisting and organizing.
We will not stop loving with every part of our being.
We will not stop kindling the lights of hope.
We will not stop.
We will lean in – and push!
May God give us the courage to turn things around toward justice and toward love, together.
Kein Lit. "May it be Your Will ..." The opening of many petitionary prayers.. So may it be God’s will.
The piece originally appeared on the Lilith Magazine blog