My family knew five of the eleven people shot and killed on Saturday.
I grew up in Pittsburgh within walking distance of the Tree of Life synagogue. As you have probably read or heard, Squirrel Hill is a tight knit, interfaith community. It has always been that way. Throughout my childhood we celebrated an equal number of our neighbor’s life events in churches and in synagogues.
The synagogue of my childhood was not far from Tree of Life. I became a Bat Mitzvah, was confirmed, and was married there. And just two weeks ago my family was in Pittsburgh celebrating my mother’s 90 th birthday.
One of the most memorable events of the weekend was the Shabbat service on Saturday morning. Watching my children share the service with my mother filled me with joy.
Saturday’s shootings and the many horrible acts of hate that have come before proves, yet again, that a current of racism, anti-Semitism, and xenophobia flows freely below the surface of our democracy. Mass shootings take place with disturbing regularity because assault rifles are as easy to buy as Doritos at a gas station.
Were the events of Saturday the tipping point for enacting legislation and tightening gun laws? Sadly, probably not.
I am so angry.
I imagine that I’ll be angry for a long time.
But even as I was wrapped tightly in my anger, remarkable things began happening. People called and texted from across the country to ask if my family was safe. Some I hadn’t spoken with in a decade. Others I worked with 20 years ago. Some I saw last week.
This is some of what they said:
“We have to hold the ones we love very close”
“Reaching across the country with a big hug”
“Praying for your family”
At some point during the weekend it occurred to me that even as we continue to be confronted by a debilitating number of random acts of hatred, there are, in fact, many more intentional acts of humanity.
These kind and thoughtful acts are helping restore my faith in the potential of our country.
Thank you for reading.