Dear Village Temple community,
We are sharing a note Rabbi Deborah Hirsch sent to her congregation at Shararay Tefilla yesterday upon learning of the tragic events in Orlando (Rabbi Hirsch begins as our interim rabbi on July 1.)
From Rabbi Hirsch:
It was with disbelief that I woke on this Shavuot morning and heard the news of the mass shooting at the Pulse Orlando Bar. When I left for services this morning, the death toll was at twenty. When I returned home three hours later, the number had climbed to fifty dead and fifty-three injured—many who are listed in critical condition.
Today, Jews across the world listened to the chanting of the Ten Commandments, a set of rules embraced by multiple faiths. The sixth commandment, Lo TIrtzach—you shall not murder, was transgressed at least fifty times early this morning. The president and media called the slaughter ‘the worst mass shooting massacre in American history’. Today’s tragedy must lift up for us the value of human life and we must raise our voices against senseless violent acts that not only cut short the lives of innocent men and women, but eclipses God’s presence in our world. This deadly assault occurred in the shadow of the upcoming first anniversary of the historic gay legislation that secured the rights of LGBT citizens in our country. Sadly, we know we can legislate laws but we cannot legislate an end to hatred. Clearly, today’s terror was a hate crime—a reminder that it is incumbent upon all of us to champion the rights of those who face discrimination in our land.
I know there are gun debates across our country and there are those in our congregation who represent both sides of that debate. Having said that, I truly hope we can all raise our voices in solidarity against horrific mass murder—that we can distinguish between the possession of a gun and the possession of an assault weapon, whose sole purpose is not to defend, but to snuff out dozens of lives in a single breath—leaving carnage and pain and misery for so many.
May God grant comfort to all who are in shock this day—to all who are wounded—to family members who will mourn the loss of loved ones—to first responders who forever will be haunted by the images they witnessed. May God grant them strength to endure their pain and may God send healing that will embrace them with memories of love.
Rabbi Deborah Hirsch