I have started and stopped writing this Shabbat message dozens of times. Like you, I am reeling from the events in our home city over the past 48 hours. I just don’t know if I have the right words to make sense of what is happening. Maybe because it is senseless.
There are many disconnects in the moment. I am seeing a beautiful sunny summer day out my office window, while the world below me feels dark and cold. As the news broke of the death of Daniel Prude, in Rochester, I was met with a gigantic knot in my stomach. Oh no, not here in Rochester too? Yes, in Rochester too.
Over the past 48 hours, it has become abundantly clear that it doesn’t matter whether we live in Minneapolis, Kenosha, Dallas or Rochester, no place is immune from the deep rooted historical systemic scourge of racism. Racism causes suffering and we cannot stand by when any people suffer.
In trying to make sense of our world, I pulled out this week’s Torah reading hoping to be able to grab onto some words of comfort and meaning. Much of the reading is about what will happen when the Israelites arrive in the Promised Land. I was deeply moved by the words at the very end of the reading. Moses says that until this day (the day they arrive) the Israelites had not been given a heart to know, eyes to see and ears to hear. In other words, they were senseless and devoid of the ability to be sentient, until reaching their ultimate home.
There are problems in our Rochester home and in many hometowns across our country. We are deeply pained in our hearts by the tragic loss. We see the injustice right in front of us. We hear the cries of our neighbors. Let us remember that our job as a Jewish community is to leave our world a better place. Let us take the steps necessary to help us live the mission of Tikkun Olam to repair our fractured world. If not now, when? We must be better.
Wishing you a Shabbat shalom and praying for better times ahead. I look forward to facing these challenges together, as a community, so that we can all live in a more just, equitable and peaceful world. We share our heartfelt condolences with the family and friends of Daniel Prude.