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Comfort, o comfort my people. (Isaiah 40:1)

04/30/2019 04:44:36 PM


Dear Or Haneshamah community,
It was a day that was already laden, soggy even, with unease.
Many of us have been observing the flood conditions in the Ottawa-Gatineau region that had risen to threatening levels during the Passover week. Some of turned our attention to our basements, or to our neighbours and our neighbourhoods; some to the systemic cascade of factors that have contributed to this increasing impact of climate change, right at our doorsteps.
For some as well, Saturday April 27 was notable as the exact half-year anniversary of the deadly attack on a Pittsburgh synagogue. I myself was reflecting on the experience of that day and its ongoing reverberations in light of more recent catastrophic attacks on mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand and on churches and hotels in Colombo, Negombo and Batticaloa, Sri Lanka, respectively.
To this awful list we now must add Poway, north of San Diego, California, where the morning synagogue service at Chabad of Poway was interrupted by a shooter, who had apparently linked his views and intent with that of the Christchurch and Pittsburgh shooters.
And here, at this juncture, I hesitate. What words can, should I add to the inexorable cascade of words at this moment?
For sure, this: we must add our voices in mourning for the life of Lori Gilbert-Kaye zā€l, and we must add our voices in support for our Jewish family in Poway, as did for our Jewish family in Pittsburgh, in all the ways we can. And I also know that we must stand with and for each other, and for all of our human family who are targeted with a fierce violence that is fueled by white supremacy and aided by ready access to deadly firearms.
And this: right here, right now in Ottawa and Gatineau, we can support our neighbours and neighbourhoods. Those who are physically able can volunteer . Some can make donations. We can all ā€“ at any age, at any time ā€“ let someone know that we are thinking about them and wonder if they need any kind of support.
At our Solidarity Service following the Pittsburgh shooting, our member Tom Grana spoke of anger, of hope, and of home. About the mezuzah, that traditional external marker of a Jewish home, he said:
"The very physical markers of our Jewish home are, to me, reminders that we are home not in one place on Earth, but with those we love, with our community, and ultimately first and foremost in our minds.  I realized that being home, to me, means staying alert, keeping my eyes and ears sharp and my muscles ready for the inevitable ugliness of this world, while keeping my heart open to grieve, to not fully comprehend, to have faith in a better future despite the evidence to the contrary."
To grieve, to have our eyes open, to have faith, to persevere, to resist, despite hostile forces that rise up ā€“ this we can and shall do, together.
In love and support,
Rabbi Liz

Tue, February 25 2020 30 Sh'vat 5780