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thoughts from a member

"Notices of Vigils in Virginia Received"

Deborah S. Snyder

I. Online in my In-Box I scroll down click on the vigils scheduled this week.

For some reason I'm having difficulty, even framing the question I need to ask.

Then ask: no longer so worried about, what others may think. My question is this:

Is it customary for our Temple (as a congregation) to issue a statement?

At least to the Virginia Interfaith Center in Richmond (at some point) send out a sort of thank you note.

Because: there is a lot of fear in this country right now. Because documented (in history) the response of non-Jews to the plight of Jews: as "Righteous Gentiles" at the risk of their own lives once, saved thousands (yet an exception to the rule sadly). Yet (early-on, giving them jobs, later hiding Jews giving them food) was (in 1935) now illegal: the Nuremberg Laws made you (the righteous) criminals; stripped all Jews of German citizenship (in a land Jews had lived for well over, a thousand years).

Students of Holocaust studies also found ample evidence the Nazis loved, the media. Made use (back then) of Film, Photography, Radio, the Press (newspapers); influenced, everything in print: medical textbooks to children's storybooks bedazzled by the media's power to spread propaganda sway the masses. The Nazis also knew, the Gentile (non-Jewish) response would matter. For example (yet having already gained international legitimacy) Hitler allowed the steam liner St. Louis, to set sail. It sailed the world. Why? To prove: no country on earth would give refuge to didn't care about: the Jews. (A footnote: in Israel, years later, Yad V'Shem would grant the ship's Captain the status, of Righteous Gentile.)

It's just odd, to me now: we Jewish Americans are the ones others, are endeavoring to comfort. I'm just not used to it; yet I am deeply appreciative.

And it's odd: I'm trying to ask, one question others, spill out:

What is the "etiquette," the protocol, to follow now? (Except where does "Etiquette," even fit in a world now dark and the sky falling. I mean, why even bother to repair the world.

Here's where I'm coming from: as a child (in the 1950s) I faced discrimination prejudice (e.g., my family denied hotel accommodations) but from ignorance: Someone says, "Wow I never met, a Jew before. Wait. Where are the horns on your head?" But: murderous hatred? It didn't happen (well not, to me anyway).


II. Now what about: my ignorance. That hateful anti-Semitism cuts so deeply yet turn, Evil ever so slightly and there: is racism, homophobia; misogyny on and on, away they go:

(DS Snyder - 2 of 3)

II. (Cont'd) "them," I resent so: stigmatize scapegoat detain deport. Or, I kick the can down the road: just, go away! Away, from my having to give, you any more thought.


III. Reports of hate-crimes (up since 2016) aside: day-to-day life for us in this country, the world's largest Jewish community outside Israel, it is hard to know if we are, "in danger" or not. We do know: George Washington over two hundred years ago guaranteed, we would worship in safety. Simply because hateful people want me to be I refuse to be, afraid.


IV. Then my grandmothers, speak to me and my lips are saying, "in America now it has happened. And all because they were Jews." And a minyan murdered (11 plus six wounded): I want to honor them but how?


V. As reported: an (elderly) couple, killed at the Tree of Life synagogue, was about to celebrate their grandson's naming and Brit. How joyful, they must have, all been that morning!

On Shabbat! I'll wager they were at least as joyful as we were (Jeff & I, six weeks ago at our own grandson's Brit).


VI. I keep thinking of that now: What of this world, soon to be theirs always much sooner than we think.

These children's-children no longer hypothetical who are not, as verses of Torah: perfect. Not: grains of sand, not simile not metaphor not, "someday": yet are here and now, and with all of the imperfection we love.


VII. Our responsibility as Jews as a people (who though flawed) in conscience respond strength-to-strength yet not, with violence.

Okay now what? Maybe, as Hillel balanced on one foot once said (and I paraphrase):

It's all pretty basic stuff: I treat you just as I would want you, to treat me. Go and learn, everything else; make observations; comment on cause-and-effect "think critically," meaning seek whys and wherefores not just facts.

One day God may they (our descendants) have skin in the game those stars-in-the-heavens of ours; the newborn just now coming online, older ones clocking-in scheduled to work, the Someday-shift (stepping up).

(DS Snyder - 3 of 3)

VII. (Cont'd: Torah will be here for them as it has been: is for me. But now it's up to me (my turn) to show Torah to them.

Our children-now-adults swamped at work in traffic: perhaps I can bring theirs to services teach (some Hebrew).


VIII. Yet tears, now insinuate themselves into: Shabbat! Tears insist gathering at the rims of the eyes collect there and well that: is anguish. You cannot wipe from the eyelids get clear of so easily.

Yet I can ask:

How may I respond?

I was thinking along the lines of a brief note, of gratitude (to our interfaith friends). Next question:

"What next?"

As to injustice: How about, I speak up. Advocate for others thankful they are willing to, for me. But I cannot just, do nothing anymore now can I.

Thu, April 18 2024 10 Nisan 5784