Today is Tisha B’Av, the saddest day in the Jewish year. It is the day we remember the destruction of the ancient temples. It is a day of mourning, fasting, and contemplation. As it ends however, it turns to a message of hope, that what was lost will be rebuilt and renewed.
As it is nearly over, let me offer a message of hope.
I too am horrified by the seemingly endless cycle of massacres, and sadly, American Jews have been an all too frequent target. The massacre at the Pittsburgh synagogue was the deadliest attack on Jews in American history and has since been followed by shootings at synagogues in San Diego and Miami.
Where’s the hope?
At synagogue, after one of these incidents, the rabbi asked for thoughts. When the room was silent, I offered this:
None of us have any illusions that anti-Semites are out there and want our blood. But they are a fringe. Unlike so many times in our history, there are no mobs gathering the streets calling for our blood. And the government is not complicit, it is absolutely opposed. When anti-Semitic incidents occur, does anyone doubt that the police are committed to protecting us? When an incident occurred here, and the FBI became involved, was there any question that they were not investigating diligently? When incidents occur, do our neighbors say – like they may have said in Germany or Poland (where our ancestors fled) – “Well, Jews, what can you expect?”
The answer is: No. I am sad that we have felt the need to hire a policeman to sit outside our synagogue on Shabbat. But I do not doubt that he will do his uttermost to protect us. If something did happen, our neighbors, of every faith or none would be here to support us. Our political leaders would condemn it vehemently.
I am horrified by the violence, like all of you, but I am still heartened, that in this country, we are not alone.
That is my message of hope. For those observing, I hope you had a meaningful fast.