Jews make up approximately 0.02% of the world.
0.02%. 15 million souls.
That is less than the margin of error for the Chinese population census.
And yet, the hate we ensue is innumerable.
How can a people so small create a feeling so large? In my 18 plus years of Jewish education my teachers have struggled to tackle this question. My Rabbeim have argued that G-d’s Eyes are always focused on Israel. And, for this reason, the rest of the world shifts its gaze accordingly. This gives us a powerful and difficult mission: to be a light unto the nations. The world cannot help but have an opinion on the Jews, it is in its DNA. Others argue that we experience these trying times in order to join together and create a united front. Personally, these answers don’t quell the pain I feel in the midst of this seemingly never-ending Anti-Semitism.
I spent my night reading the headlines about the shooting in Squirrel Hill.
“11 Killed in Pittsburgh Massacre.”
“Mass Shooting at Pittsburgh Synagogue.”
“Hate Crime Leaves 11 Dead.”
I noticed that these titles felt recycled. It took but seconds to recall the hundreds of previous headlines I had read about mass shootings. Each and every one was stated plainly, sans emotion or identity. Reading through the articles brought the same lack of recognition: “Among those killed were a pair of brothers and a married couple. The oldest was 97 years old, and the youngest 54.” I tried to imagine having known them. It was almost too easy to picture myself in the Tree of Life Synagogue that Saturday morning. I could have been one of the 11. And yet, the news of the shooting did not come as a shock. I had read these headlines before.
We make up approximately 0.02% of the world.
0.02%. 14,999,989 souls.
We will never understand why Our People have been subjected to a life of trials and forced perseverance. But, we have an obligation to pay tribute to those we’ve lost. The world is our stage and it watches how we respond to tragedy. Joyce Feinberg, Richard Gottfried, Rose Mallinger, Jerry Rabinowitz, Cecil and David Rosenthal, Bernice and Sylvan Simon, Daniel Stein, Melvin Wax, and Irving Younger died Al Kiddush Hashem at The Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue, they were killed for their beliefs.
The Jewish people are likened to a tree, a tree of life.
Our roots are grounded in years of hardship, tradition, and strength.
We are a tree that can never be cut down, no matter how fierce the blow.
As a part of this tree of life, I vow to pick up the torch set down by these 11 victims.
We will carry on because that is who we are. It is in our DNA.