Renew Our Days as of Old
A Prayer on the Third Anniversary of the Tree of Life Synagogue Massacre
Rabbi Noam E. Marans – AJC Director of Interreligious and Intergroup Relations
Three years have passed since the horrific Shabbat morning at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue, when eleven of our American Jewish brothers and sisters were gunned down at prayer.
They were, above all, individual human beings created in the image of God, members of now bereaved families, mainstays of their communities, doing what they always did, going to shul on Shabbat morning, being with their fellow Jews.
Joyce Fienberg, 75; Richard Gottfried, 65; Rose Mallinger, 97; Jerry Rabinowitz, 66; the brothers Cecil Rosenthal, 59, and David Rosenthal, 54. May our memory of them be for a blessing.
The wife and husband Bernice Simon, 84, and Sylvan Simon, 86; Daniel Stein, 71; Melvin Wax, 88; Irving Younger, 69. May our memory of them be for a blessing.
American Jewish innocence lost; it could happen here; it did happen here.
Sadly, it wasn’t the beginning of innocence lost. In Charlottesville we heard, “Jews will not replace us.”
Sadly, it wasn’t the end of innocence lost. Thereafter came Poway, Jersey City, Monsey, Brooklyn, and more.
Like Abraham, of whom we read in the Torah at this time of the year, our community has known unparalleled success and then, in an instant, confronted vulnerability.
Like our Patriarch, we allowed ourselves to ask, am I a toshav, a cherished resident of our goldene medina, this golden land, or perhaps a ger, a stranger in yet another inhospitable place like so many other?
We knew the answer. There is none like America in the long history of Jewish diaspora.
But before we could even answer for ourselves, others stepped up and answered for themselves: When Jews are murdered, they said, everyone bleeds.
They did not stand idly by while their neighbor’s blood was shed; they ran towards and not away; they were upstanders, not bystanders.
Bless those who showed up for Shabbat, now and then. Their presence allowed the good of the many to prevail over the evil of the few.
From the depths we cried out to You, dear God, and You were and are with us in our straits.
Yea, though we walked through the valley of the shadow of death, we will fear no evil, for Thou art with us.
Renew our days as of old. Amen.