Some Random Thoughts About Pittsburgh

Like just about every Jew and many Americans, the massacre at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh has weighed heavily on my heart, my mind and my soul.

Mixed emotions: horror and sadness and disappointment and anger.

Some random thoughts:

  • Ratio: For every person living in Israel there are about forty people living in the USA. So, when 2 Israelis are killed it is like 80 Americans killed. Look at the emotions when eleven American Jews are killed – imagine if 80 were killed. If you really think about this you must understand the psyche of the Israeli people.
  • Front page of the Pittsburgh newspaper: If this didn’t make you cry nothing will.
  • Food for thought: At LA’s Sinai Temple Pittsburgh Shabbat Services, Rabbi David Wolpe gave a sermon that was very meaningful and thought provoking. He based much of the sermon on Rabbi Yitz Greenberg’s statement that …no matter which Jewish Denomination you belong to you should be ashamed of it! In this case, meaning whether you are part of the community which supports the Republicans or whether you are part of the community which supports the Democrats, you should be ashamed of that community. I urge every person to listen to his sermon.
  • Nice, but…. It was very nice to see community rallies, but in many cases there were two sets of events – one for the non-traditional community and one for the observant community. If what happened in Pittsburgh wasn’t bad enough to get our communities to act as one then there is no hope for the future.
  • Muslim community fundraising for Pittsburgh: I understand this inspiring reaction from the Muslim community, however, might not those funds be better put to use trying to break Hamas’ stranglehold on the Palestinian People?
  • Armed guards? At just about every Synagogue and Day School in the LA area there are armed guards at the entrance of the facility. And, I do not mean old fat guys with no weapons – I mean, in most cases in LA, former IDF types! You can’t get into an airport without passing through a checkpoint where there are armed guards. Why does not EVERY Synagogue and Day School have them? Just does not make sense to me.
  • Sickening: Hasidic newspaper omits photos of Pittsburgh’s female victims. I understand their policy of ‘no females’ but there are plenty of other images they could have used describing the horror. Erasing three Jews is beyond the pale. Are these people really Jewish?
  • Anti-Semitism: In my ToI blog, dated February 28, 2017, titled “It is time to stop talking! It is time to start acting!” I called on our Jewish leadership to convene some sort of gathering to deal with this growing issue. Sure we want the government to do everything in its power to fight Anti-Semitism, however, we cannot expect it to act when the organized American Jewish community does not take this disease seriously enough to develop a significant and unified plan.
  • Pittsburgh Rabbi’s response to criticism (hosting President Trump): “As a Jew and as a religious leader you show respect and welcome, that is why I welcomed President Trump”. “No one tells me how to welcome a guest in my own home”.Of course he is 100% right. Those who criticized him are part of the problem (to say the least). Read more of what he said.
  • NBC Nightly News: It took me a long time to stop crying after I watched this video of the closing segment of the November 2nd NBC Nightly News:

  • The Perfect Song or Prayer: At first thought one might think that Oseh Shalom or Al Kol Elle would be the most fitting songs in response to this tragedy. However, another song – especially this version – is as appropriate as any: Matisyahu’s ‘One Day’. This version, sung by 3,000 Jews, Christians and Muslims, in three different languages, is both heartbreaking and inspirational.

ONE DAY

See everybody that´s existing
Got a mind of their own
We´re all Kings and Queens
With a throne of our own
Tryin to raise a family
Is an empty home
We got to learn to stick together
Hate to be here alone
‘Cause the world is a place
That will eat you alive in one day
Said the world is a place
That you can´t survive without faith
Sometimes in my tears I drown
But I never let it get me down
So when negativity surrounds
I know some day it´ll all turn around
Because
All my life I´ve been waiting for
I´ve been praying for
For the people to say
That we don´t wanna fight no more
They´ll be no more wars
And our children will play

One day (one day), One day (one day)
One day (one day), One day (one day)
One day (one day), One day (one day)

It´s not about
Win or lose
We all lose
When they feed on the souls of the innocent
Blood drenched pavement
Keep on moving though the waters stay raging
In this maze you can lose your way (your way)
It might drive you crazy
But don’t let it faze you no way (no way)
Gotta hold on
Livin life day by day
Gotta hold on
Put your focus on that one day
All my life I´ve been waiting for
I´ve been praying for
For the people to say
That we don´t wanna fight no more
They´ll be no more wars
And our children will play

One day (one day), One day (one day)
One day (one day), One day (one day)
One day (one day), One day (one day)
One day this all will change

Treat people the same
Stop with the violence
Down with the hate
One day we´ll all be free
And proud to be
Under the same sun
Singing songs of freedom like
Gotta hold on
Livin life day by day
Gotta hold on
Put your focus on that one day
All my life I´ve been waiting for
I´ve been praying for
For the people to say
That we don´t wanna fight no more
They´ll be no more wars
And our children will play

One day (one day), One day (one day)
One day (one day), One day (one day)
One day (one day), One day (one day)See everybody that´s existing

Got a mind of their own
We´re all Kings and Queens
With a throne of our own
Tryin to raise a family
Is an empty home
We got to learn to stick together
Hate to be here alone
‘Cause the world is a place
That will eat you alive in one day
Said the world is a place
That you can´t survive without faith
Sometimes in my tears I drown
But I never let it get me down
So when negativity surrounds
I know some day it´ll all turn around
Because
All my life I´ve been waiting for
I´ve been praying for
For the people to say
That we don´t wanna fight no more
They´ll be no more wars
And our children will play

One day (one day), One day (one day)
One day (one day), One day (one day)
One day (one day), One day (one day)

It´s not about
Win or lose
We all lose
When they feed on the souls of the innocent
Blood drenched pavement
Keep on moving though the waters stay raging
In this maze you can lose your way (your way)
It might drive you crazy
But don’t let it faze you no way (no way)
Gotta hold on
Livin life day by day
Gotta hold on
Put your focus on that one day
All my life I´ve been waiting for
I´ve been praying for
For the people to say
That we don´t wanna fight no more
They´ll be no more wars
And our children will play

One day (one day), One day (one day)
One day (one day), One day (one day)
One day (one day), One day (one day)
One day this all will change

Treat people the same
Stop with the violence
Down with the hate
One day we´ll all be free
And proud to be
Under the same sun
Singing songs of freedom like
Gotta hold on
Livin life day by day
Gotta hold on
Put your focus on that one day
All my life I´ve been waiting for
I´ve been praying for
For the people to say
That we don´t wanna fight no more
They´ll be no more wars
And our children will play

One day (one day), One day (one day)
One day (one day), One day (one day)
One day (one day), One day (one day)

  • And, one final thought: What we, the Jewish People, do next will decide whether we survive or not!
About the Author
Paul Jeser born in the Bronx in 1945 has been a member of the Jewish Communal Service and a Jewish fundraising professional since 1972. Although not an ordained Rabbi, he organized and ran a Jewish Chaplaincy program in the United States Army in Augsburg, Germany (1969-71). Jeser was an officer with a drug rehabilitation center in Vietnam (1971-72) during which time he was awarded a Bronze Star. In May, 2006, the Hebrew Union College, Institute of Jewish Religion, presented Mr. Jeser the Sherut L’Am award in recognition of his decades of service to the Jewish People.
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