Rochel Kaplan

Father, in front of the Holy Ark, we stand together as one

Analogous to the mourners, but in no way comparable to the pain and loss felt by mourners of the Har Nof terrorist attack and massacre, I feel a need to express my pent-up emotions.

Four Jewish Holy Souls were taken from our midst yesterday. In the words of singer and songwriter, Amir Benayoun, “Jewish Blood”, “Another sad day for Jerusalem, another day when Jewish blood spills like water”, and “Inside your synagogue, in front of the Torah Ark”.

We all experienced a day of mourning. Hearing the Hespedim of children, students, loved ones, and witnessing the bloodshed, the turmoil, the funeral processions, was truly a day recorded in Megilat Eicha, Lamentations.

Many of us saw this tragedy as a personal one. To be standing in shul on an ordinary day and davening in the early morning Tfilat Shacharit to the Ribono Shel Olom, is a scene that repeats itself for millennia going back to Abraham. And then sight unseen, we awake in America, and watch the news of another terrorist attack, making this no ordinary day, a day that stands alone, for Kiddush Hashem, in the holiest of places.

Like the mourners, on a much smaller scale, the observers, must find a means for self-expression. How does one express anger, hate, love, pain, empathy, pity, pride, all bound up in one? Listening to the touching song by Amir Benayoun, over and over again, I came to understand.

The scenes that we witnessed whether close up or from afar, are painfully familiar, Jewish blood being spilled too freely and without remorse. Each of us, has surely experienced hate and antisemitism, personally or communally, so we all know. Knowing is feeling.

It would seem natural and normal, to act out in revenge, to hate and to teach hate. We the Jewish people are too occupied with our mission of love, to be bothered with hate. We turn instead to Hashem in love, to accept with love, to submit unequivocally with our limited finite understanding, to “His” will, in recognition of a higher power and an eternal purpose. The Holy Ark which witnessed the spilling of blood like water, testifies to Almighty G-d, of the purity of Jewish souls who stand above angels in their service, “with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your might”.

We the people, the observers, who witness, know more than ever, that the love that we have for one another is more powerful than any weapon, enemy or hate, and that we will prevail, stronger than before. Already, this morning, Shacharit resumed at Kehilat Bnei Torah in Jerusalem’s Har Nof synagogue, without interruption.

Who is like your people, Yisroel. Where are there a people on earth since the creation of the world that stand together united as one.

About the Author
Rochel Kaplan is a communal leader. She is involved in Jewish outreach in the Maryland region, promoting adult Jewish education based on Torah teachings and Chassidic philosophy, as a guide for Jewish life.