I went to a Shabbat last Saturday at Temple Israel of the Poconos to stand in solidarity with my Jewish brothers and sisters, and also in remembrance of the eleven people who were ruthlessly murdered at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA exactly one week prior to that day.
It’s hard to pick a particular reason why I felt compelled to go. I could say it was because I grew up in a neighborhood that was once predominately Jewish. Not far from an old synagogue, Ahavath Zion, where they met to worship and fellowship.
Or that it’s because I share an almer mater with some of Newark’s most noted Jewish sons: The late actor, comedian and humanitarian, Jerry Lewis; the late award winning novelist and short story writer, Philip Roth; and the late Emmy Award winning sportscaster, Sandy Grossman, to name a few.
Or because I thought of my old friend Ross, one of the best coders to ever hammer away at a keyboard, who swore he had died and gone to heaven when I introduced him to collard greens and hushpuppies and thus dubbed me his brother from a different mother.
Then again, I could say it was simply because I know it was but for grace, or worse, mere happenstance, that it wasn’t a house of worship in my ‘burg. Or a school, or a department store, or a movie theater., or….?
Needless to say, I went because I knew I had to go. And I’m glad to say, it was the right choice.
There were some powerful and touching moments; some of which moved more than a few people to tears. And there were some notables in attendance, too. The district senator and state rep’ was there, the mayor of the borough, and leaders from various faiths. I even met a few neighbors I didn’t know I had. I’d like to think the pols were motivated by a shared sense of humanity, and not by the fact that election day was just a few days away. But I digress.
Sorry, there are no photos. But, if you can close your eyes and picture yourself celebrating life with psalm and songs in a sanctuary filled with like spirited men and woman (Black, White, Asian, Arabic, Latin, East Indian, etc.) from the Jewish, Catholic, Protestant, Islamic and other religions; you’d have a pretty good idea of what America is supposed to look like when people from different ethnic groups and religions peaceably assemble in the absence of hatred and fear.
Sadly, I wish I could imagine what it would be like to not have to imagine I actually lived in an America like that.