In the aftermath of the Pittsburgh tragedy, writers at Tablet Magazine turn to scripture to find healing and strength:
“For the sake of my brothers and friends, I will now say, Peace be within you.” (Psalms 122:8)
And for the people of Pittsburgh, for the Jews of Squirrel Hill: Our prayers go out to you, and for you. You may be afraid. I am afraid, too. But we are with you. As you walk through this dark valley, you will not come out the same way on the other side, but you will not be alone a single step of the way. And for your sake, we will continue to work for peace, both in the larger world, and inside of ourselves. This peace won’t be easily achieved, or arrive overnight, but we promise you that we will continue to believe in it and help create it.
“Hashem will give strength to His people, Hashem will bless His people with peace.” (Psalms 29:11)
That peace won’t come from giving in, or disappearing. It won’t come from passivity or complicity or taking the path of least resistance. Instead, as the verse says, peace comes through strength. Let me be clear. Strength does not mean violence. It doesn’t mean guns in synagogues and fear of everyone new who enters the room. Instead, strength is about the faith that, even in the darkest moments, we will, somehow, someday, find the strength to go on.
What does that mean? It means supporting the important work of HIAS, because Judaism is committed to loving the stranger. It means going to shul, because the 11 people who were murdered can’t go anymore. It means voting, because otherwise our despair will be mistaken for apathy. It means speaking up against hatred, anti-Semitism, racism, and bigotry, even when it’s scary. It means doing an extra act of kindness, for the 11 souls who were robbed of the chance to do kindness themselves. Through these acts of strength—strength we shouldn’t have to muster but is still required of us—we might begin to find peace.