Prayer

There Was a Pogrom This Week, Lord. In the United States of America

There was a terrible darkness in Your house, Lord. But then there was light

Mourners line up to pay their respects at visitation services for brothers Cecil and David Rosenthal at Rodef Shalom Temple in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S., October 30, 2018.
REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton

El Malei Rachamim - God who is made of mercy. El Malei Chemlah, God who is made of compassion. El Malei Or, God who is made of Light: God whose house has been defiled by a cruel and monstrous and godless darkness – bless the survivors.

There was a pogrom this week, Lord. In the United States of America. 

In Your house. In that congregation which is an extended family. During a prayer service. Welcoming a newborn. That very moment, Lord. Shattered in slaughter. 

There was a terrible darkness in Your house, Lord. But then there was light.

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It came from Pittsburgh, from Jews and Muslims and Christians standing together, mourning together, refusing to hate, refusing to surrender. In Your house. Refusing to forget.

The light has only spread, across the country and beyond. 

- May the One who grants healing, help to mend those who loved and lost Jerry Rabinowitz

A doctor whom families trusted and adored. A doctor who treated HIV patients and embraced them when others would not. A doctor who, when heard shots fired at the Tree of Life congregation, rushed in from another service to help the wounded. 

Jerry, who lived 66 years. Slain because he came to shul on Shabbat. Murdered for being a Jew.

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Your children who survived are not broken. Their love is more powerful by far than hate. This is the meaning of these vigils, these prayers, their vows:

We who have survived this terrible darkness – we, all of us - are light.

- May the One in whose image we are all created, see to those who loved and lost Cecil and David Rosenthal.

Two brothers, inseparable, who welcomed fellow congregants to the Tree of Life synagogue. Beloved, sweet, gentle. Two brothers who did not allow their disabilities to limit them. 

Cecil, who lived 59 years, and David who lived 54 years. Slain because they came to shul on Shabbat. Murdered for being Jews. 

The memories of Your children who were slaughtered, their good works, their giving spirits, are alive now in the hearts of all those who did not know them in life.

Their memories are, even now, a blessing:

- May the One who sends angels, watch over those who loved and lost Bernice and Sylvan Simon. 

Married 62 years ago in the synagogue in which they were killed. Kind. Generous. Loving. Gracious. 

Bernice, who lived 84 years, and Sylvan, who lived 86 years. Slain because they came to shul on Shabbat. Murdered for being Jews. 

- May the One who sustains life, comfort those who loved and lost Rose Mallinger.

Rose, witty and buoyant and razor-sharp, whose family said she knew her children, grandchildren and great-grandchild better than they knew themselves.

Rose, who lived 97 years. Slain because she came to shul on Shabbat. Murdered for being a Jew.

- May the One who gives strength when all strength is gone, come to the aid of those who loved and lost Daniel Stein.

Daniel, who loved nothing more than his grandson and the Tree of Life synagogue - the grandson whose bris had taken place in the very room where Daniel was slaughtered.

Daniel, who lived 71 years. Slain because he came to shul on Shabbat. Murdered for being a Jew.

- May the One who repairs the world, look after those who loved and lost Joyce Fienberg.

Joyce, a researcher in the field of learning and teaching. An engaging, warm and elegant person.

Joyce who lived 75 years.  Slain because she came to shul on Shabbat. Murdered for being a Jew.

- May the One whose universe is constantly evolving, be a source of solace to those who loved and lost Richard Gottfried. Richard, who was a dentist, also aided interfaith couples in preparing for marriage.

Richard, who lived 65 years. Slain because he came to shul on Shabbat. Murdered for being a Jew.

- May the One to whom we turn when burdens cannot be borne, support those who loved and lost Melvin Wax.

Melvin, a person of positive outlook, a quiet man who loved to tell jokes. Melvin, who was leading Shabbat services when the slaughter began. Melvin, who lived 88 years. Slain because he came to shul on Shabbat. Murdered for being a Jew.

- May the One who sets in motion birth and growth and generations, watch over those who loved and lost Irving Younger.

Irving, who coached kids in baseball, and who made worshippers feel welcome and a part of services.

Irving, who lived 69 years.  Slain because he came to shul on Shabbat. Murdered for being a Jew.

Your children are not forgotten, Lord. Not in Pittsburgh, and not in Jeffersontown, near Louisville, Kentucky.

May the One who created us all, who made us human, grant solace and hope to those who loved and lost Maurice Stallard. 

Maurice was with his 12-year-old grandson, buying poster board for the grandchild's school project, when a terrorist, unable to enter and violate a nearby church, entered the Jeffersontown store where they were shopping, and opened fire.

Maurice lived 69 years. Slain when he went to a store to help his grandson. Murdered for being an African-American.

And May the One who to whom we turn when words fail and tragedy overwhelms, grant peace to those who loved and lost Vickie Lee Jones.

Vickie Lee, whose life work was helping veterans in need, and who had moved to Jeffersontown because she wanted to be safe.

Vickie Lee lived for 67 years. Slain because, the terrorist said, "Whites don’t kill whites." Murdered for being African-American.

There was a pogrom this week, Lord. But look again. Something better is coming.

El Malei Rachamim, God who is made of mercy. El Malei Chemlah, God who is made of compassion. El Malei Or, God who is made of Light. God whose house has been defiled by a cruel and monstrous and godless darkness – bless us, the survivors.

Good will come of this. The memories of the fallen are, even now, a blessing.