It was a heinous act of cowardice. A man walked into a Jewish synagogue and opened fire on innocent, unarmed men, women and children. He killed eleven and wounded six others. It appears he did this because he thought the Jews were being too welcoming to immigrants. I doubt seriously this man even knew that one of the foundations of the Jewish faith is to welcome the stranger--the alien--because they were also once strangers and aliens For that matter, so were all of us.
My first reaction to such an act is anger. I want this man to pay for what he did.
After the first wave of anger passes, my next reaction is just profound sadness--sadness at what appears to be happening to too many of us. A rage inside that wants a way out and expresses itself in violence.
Just when I begin to feel depressed about it all, I hear this: When the perpetrator of this crime was admitted to the Emergency Room at Allegheny General Hospital, he shouted, “I want to kill all the Jews!”
The doctor and attending nurse who treated him were both Jewish. The hospital’s president belongs to The Tree of Life synagogue where the attack took place. They tended to this man as they would tend to any patient. “We are here to take care of sick people” the doctor said. “You do what you think is right.”
During times like this, when we have a senseless mass murder and pipe bombs being sent to public officials, it is easy to forget that our country, our communities, are filled with good, decent people like that doctor and nurse--people who hate no one and who struggle every day to do what is right--even when it hurts.
There is a concept--a core value--for Jews called “tikkum olam”--it is the duty of all Jews to “repair the world.” Jesus commanded us to make the Kingdom of God a reality--now. Our world is badly in need of repair. Our wounds need tending. We need more healers and less hate.