Jun 16, 2016

After Orlando

After Orlando
(c) Rabbi Menachem Creditor

Dear Chevreh, 

Yet again. Again. Gun violence. But more. Bigger. the biggest in American history. And targeting the LGBT community. On a Latino-themed evening. 

And for us, on Shavuot. Many of us still reveling (and tired) from the amazing East Bay Tikkun Leyl Shavuot. I found myself frustrated by the inability to share thoughts, read the thoughts of others online due to the traditional observance of the Holiday. 

My reflection about how it felt at Netivot Shalom Sunday morning, are well represented in this Times of Israel article by Amanda Borschel-Dan, which covered my work with Rabbis Against Gun Violence. This article, by Rob Gloster, in this coming week's J Weekly brings many Jewish voices together in response to the attack on Pulse, upon the LGBT community, upon us all. 

Chevreh, I'm writing for several reasons. 

The Filibuster on the floor of the Senate last night, led by CT Senator Chris Murphy, joined by 40 other senators, including 2 Republicans and one Independent, marks a symbolic moment. And I believe Netivot Shalom can continue to play a role in the healing and cultural shift our nation needs so very badly. 

We must, as a faith community, reach out to our Muslim sisters and brotherswho are victims of hate, provoked in part by the media's (and some politicians') readiness to identify the attacker (yemach shemo, may his name be forever erased) as a Muslim terrorist. Our sold out interfaith Iftar this Sunday demonstrates that we are well-positioned to make a difference in this important way.  (Thank you, Serena Heaslip and many others for supporting this beautiful event for the 9th annual year!)

In truth, every act of gun violence is terrorism. Our willingness to label whiteattackers "lone wolves," black attackers "thugs," Muslim attackers as "terrorists," and our unwillingness to hold our elected officials and gun manufacturers legally accountable is something we must call out. As we say every Shabbat: 

"we have not come into being to hate, or to destroy/ we have come into being to praise, to labor, and to love."

Chevreh, I'm writing to us all because I'm hearing from many congregants that it's hard to have hope. I therefore write to remind us all that hope is a commandment, and the worst sin is despair. Every headline has its own focus, but we are called to envision and build a future that surpasses expectations.  Again, we pray every Shabbat:

"May we see the day when war and bloodshed cease, when a great peace will embrace the whole world."

This will, we are sad to acknowledge, not be the end. Hope will continue to be an effort, and countless lives have already been irrevocably affected by the racism, homophobia, gun-worship, and civic/political inaction that combine to incite and fuel the current American Gun Violence epidemic. 

I remain determined to do my part, as an American rabbi. I am deeply grateful that Netivot Shalom has continued to support my work in the Gun Violence Prevention world, and invite you to strengthen your resolve and involvement as we continue fulfilling Jewish tradition's instruction to labor for the welfare of society.

This week, in fact, marks the one year anniversary of the attack on a Black Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Rabbis Against Gun Violence, in coalition with many other organizations, has named this Shabbat "Stand Up Shabbat" and has prepared this set of resources. I will recite one of the prayers from this packet this Shabbat morning.

For now, friends, we will do more than pray. We will love each other even more, reach out to our fellow Americans, call friends and loved ones, call our elected officials, and build "Olam Chesed" the world of Love we know can and must become real. 

In the spirit of this week's Parsha: "Naso / may we be counted" among those who are upstanders for justice.