WE HAVE SO MUCH WORK TO DO
Words I never thought I would see in a text alert “active shooter Shady and Wilkins take cover stay inside”.
Now, tonight, words are hard for me to find or rather words that I think somehow haven’t become cliché or hollow because they keep being repeated over and over and over again…so, here’s this:
Last year, I moved to Pittsburgh knowing one person – Amy Guterson, my friend for over 30 years, we met in acting school and she herself is a pillar in the Squirrel Hill Jewish community. I chose to live in Squirrel Hill to be near her and her beautiful family. A family that every Friday night and Saturday day, invite me, an Episcopalian, into their home for Shabbos - breaking bread, singing, laughing and praying with me. I once remarked that Shabbos with them was like having Thanksgiving every week. Though I had been terribly homesick, the Gutersons bathed me in the gift of their friendship and love through which I was able to begin to find stable ground and feel that things might be ok. Squirrel Hill is a remarkable community the likes of which I’ve never lived in before, and I’m from NY! It has been this diverse and tolerant community, along with my CMU family, that restored my faith in others because of all the kindness and civility with which they greet me - all the time, every day…Isn’t that how it’s supposed to be?
Today, as soon as I could, I got in my car and drove to their house. As I walked up the path, through the window I could see a very large gathering around the table and Yakov saying prayers. When Amy came to the door…I’m not sure I’ve ever hugged another person so hard in all my life. A chair was placed at the table for me to sit, and after I filled them in on what was happening only several blocks away, we broke bread, prayed, sang and yes even laughed as we delighted in the young women and men around us and the babies squealing as they chased dogs.
And there was the stranger who came to check on one of the boys, and he was given a seat at the table. And there was the young woman sent by a son seeking confirmation that his parents were ok, and she was given a seat at the table.
The Talmud says:
Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.
We have so much work to do and we must not abandon it.