I sit in a courtroom called up for jury duty. It is a strange day. April 14. Snow is falling. Tonight begins Passover. It is Monday morning.
Last Wednesday night, I chaired an interfaith event for National Council of Jewish Women, Kansas City Section. Women and men of many faiths came together to learn about divorce in Judaism, Islam and Catholicism. It was an interesting debate, and indicative of Johnson County, Kansas. Peaceful discussions.
On Saturday night I went with my family to the Jewish Community Center in Overland Park to see a production of “To Kill A Mockingbird.” We saw how bigotry and racism led to the death of innocence. The sold out audience was riveted by the presentation. Was this show an indication of what would come?
Sunday, an act of evil disrupted the peaceful world of Overland Park and Johnson County, Kansas. A demented, bigoted man entered the perimeter of the Jewish Community Center and Village Shalom, a retirement center, and murdered three innocent people. A grandfather and grandson, a woman, none of them Jewish. But they were participating in events at the places where Jews gather. I cannot understand these acts.
But I refuse to focus on the hatred this individual embodied. I choose to focus on all the love.
I choose to focus on the women and men who came together to learn about interfaith issues. I choose to focus on the sold out performance of “To Kill a Mockingbird.” I choose to focus on the outpouring of love to my family from all over the country and the world from family and friends, Jewish and non-Jewish.
Phone calls, emails, Facebook posts, text messages. Tears and anguish from both Jewish and Non-Jewish friends. All saying we love you! All saying we are shocked. And all who live here know how good the Jewish community is.
I should have been preparing for Passover last night. But we were all in shock. We had planned to celebrate my niece and nephew’s birthdays. And we did. Because we were going to focus on the good.
Overland Park is a wonderful spot to live, to raise children, to feel part of a community.
The Jewish Community Center is part of my life. I served as a board member for nine years. I am on the advisory board. My children grew up there. They went to the preschool, to the day school, to the camps. My husband and I exercise there several times a week. We attend shows and presentations.
Hatred such as this man’s invades the soul. But I refuse to let it make me fearful. Sad, yes. I will always think of those who died and their families. But I plan to focus on the love.
As I sat in the courtroom, I knew I would be excused. Passover is tonight. I have a holiday to celebrate and I will. I have family and friends to be with, a community of love. And I will be embraced.