Rabbi Irwin Wiener, D.D.
We are all acquainted with grief and the valley of shadows. Death and sorrow are no strangers to us, yet history has taught us that there is strength in faith.
No one can truly understand the magnitude of the tragedies that befell our country over the past weeks and months, and even years. The killings and destruction of life and limb has left us all bereft. How could this be happening in our country? How could we allow this devastation to continue unabated? Where are our political and religious leaders when we need them the most?
And if this is not enough, we witnessed nature wreak havoc upon so many in so short a time. We were all glued to our television sets watching as the winds blew, the rains fell, and the earth shook. Tens of thousands of people, young and old, sick, strong and weak, all joined together to overcome the massive destruction caused by such force.
Not only was humanities’ endurance challenged, but our faith was shaken as well. We witnessed people rushing to the aid of those in harm’s way. We sat glued to our television sets watching as multitudes of rain-soaked people fled for their lives. Homes and lives destroyed in an instant.
Most of all, we endured indiscriminate mass killings of children and adults for no reason. The mayhem resulting from these tragedies has played havoc with our lives. No one feels safe just entering any heavily trafficked area.
Through all of this came the understanding that the sanctity of life was threatened, but not the humanity that was displayed by so many from not only surrounding areas, but from worldwide efforts. All of us cried and prayed. All of us did what was expected of us: To reach out to touch a hand through humanitarian exchanges with support using the resources available.
We sometimes wonder what we can do to affect the change necessary for acceptance. We can do so much as a community. Our religious leaders joining together can instill in each of us a spirit of doing for others as we would wish others to do for us. We can dedicate ourselves to demonstrate the sacredness of the human spirit.
I can think of no better way to commemorate life than to demonstrate what we are capable of as we beseech God on behalf of all mankind. Perhaps together we can learn to endure. More than that, however, perhaps together we can learn to persevere. And, even more than that, perhaps we can understand that there is hope so long as we maintain faith in ourselves, our people, and God.