This past Wednesday, Laura Newman Eckstein presented a fascinating talk on her work with the Cairo Geniza. Stampfer Chapel was packed. Some were there to support this talented young woman, who grew up in our community, and her beloved parents, Jerry and Lisa. Others were there out of intellectual curiosity.
As we conclude the book of Genesis, Jacob and then Jospeh die. Before those shattering deaths, we are presented with a particularly poignant moment. Jacob, now known as Israel, looks at his son, Joseph, and declares with tender vulnerability, “I didn’t dare hope to see your face again, and here God has shown me your children as well.”
This past Wednesday marked the sheloshim, the thirtieth day since the massacre at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. Jewish custom has established guideposts by which we observe and mourn. The periods of time closest to a death are considered to carry our deepest grief; as time passes, the intensity of our pain tends to lessen.
On Wednesday, I attended an early morning meeting with representatives of the Tigard Tualatin School District and area faith leaders. The gathering was convened by our own congregant, Karen Twain, who serves as the district’s assistant superintendent.
At the end of one of our healing services last week, I mentioned from the bimah (pulpit) that we knew that Pittsburgh would not be the last mass shooting. The next one might not be a synagogue, but it would certainly come. Little did any of us know how little time would elapse before this latest travesty in Thousand Oaks.
Each one of us has been affected by the horrible murders of our Jewish brothers and sisters in Pittsburgh this past week. An attack in a synagogue just feels way too close. Whether grief, anger, a combination of both….or the myriad of other emotions that have grabbed us…..we know that we need to come together and be with one another.