As I wrote in my Opening Thoughts column this week, this has been the hardest paper to put out in my more than five years at the Baltimore Jewish Times, for the unthinkable has happened. Eleven Jews were brutally murdered, on Shabbat of all days, in the United States of America.
On Sunday, I attended two gatherings at Baltimore to photograph and takes notes for the Jewish Times. But most importantly, I needed to be with my people.
I couldn’t help but get choked up on Sunday at both the singings of “Oseh Shalom” I heard. The first, led by a chorus of clergy at Baltimore Hebrew Congregation Sunday morning, the second led by Kol HaLev Cantor George Henschel at the Baltimore Holocaust Memorial downtown that afternoon. I’ve heard the song a million times, but it carried piercing poignancy the day after 11 Jews were killed.
One of the most beautiful things I saw on Sunday outside of the large numbers of people who came out was the moment when a group of politicians in the front row sang and swayed together, including Baltimore County Executive candidates Johnny Olszewski Jr. and Al Redmer Jr. I can think of few things that would lead to such a moment nearly a week before two competitors will face off in a contested election.
At some point during the afternoon gathering, I found myself standing between civil and human rights activist Zainab Chaudry, holding a sign that read “Muslims Stand With Jews,” and another woman who I could only assume is Wiccan holding a sign that read “Witches Against Anti-Semitism.” These women and the at least half dozen priests in the crowd showed me that the Jewish community does not stand alone.
So, we have solidarity. We have allies. Where do we go from here? Clearly, something evil has been reawakened in our country. Hate crimes and anti-Semitic incidents are on the rise. A lot of people spoke about voting, and I agree, voting is essential. But what can we do outside of electing politicians we think will help our cause and unseating politicians we think hurt our cause? How do we holistically address racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and the other prejudices plaguing our world?
These are tough questions, but our country and its leaders needs to do the necessary introspection to answer them.
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Beth Shalom Overflows at Pittsburgh Vigil
Anti-Semitic Attack at Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha Leaves Eleven Dead, Six Injured
Baruch Dayan Ha’emet
World Rallies Around Pittsburgh Offering Help and Support
Pittsburgh Rabbis Identify Next Steps for Victims’ Bodies
Rabbis Shaken By Attack Rally to Comfort Others
Special Editorial: #WeAreAllJews
Violent Times … And How to Talk to Your Kids About Them
Messages of Consolation and Hope Come from Politicians Here and Abroad