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This coming Shabbat, let’s go to shul/synagogue/temple

Even if you never go, and never pray, we can come together at 10:20 am this Saturday to combat fear and show unity

Like so many of us, I ended Shabbat by being greeted with the horrific news out of Pittsburgh. After a beautiful family bar mitzvah, the last thing I wanted was to be brought down to earth after Havdalah with my father telling me about the shooting.

Like so many others, I followed the news, numb as the number of those killed rose, and the sympathies and prayers poured in from everywhere.

The overriding emotions coming from the Jewish social media spectrum has been that of all-too-familiar grief, sadness, anger, and fear – as expressed by a colleague in a kehilla in the USA – the palpable fear there of going to or leaving a synagogue.

Fear, and its accompanying sidekicks in-action and lack-of-confidence, are unfortunately a part of what being a Jew has been over the last two millennia.

Fear has accompanied us across time and space, since the failure of the Bar Kochba revolt, and since nascent Rabbinic Judaism turned inwards and strove to survive and not actively resist.

It is understandable, after all.  We have been the punching bag of history for so many centuries.

So, here’s a suggestion. A simple idea that worked for millennia, and it seems others have thought of this day as well — I am glad I am not alone in this.

A suggestion that could make a small difference, if for no other reason than it involves one way of combating fear: Action.

It occurred to me while davening early this morning, thinking of this latest in the long, long line of tragedies, and saying the words:

Shomer Yisrael, Shemor She’erit Yisrael…Ve-anachnu lo neda, ma na’aseh — Guardian of Israel, guard the remnant of Israel…And we do not know, what to do…”

Well, how about a little action to combat the fear?

How about if EVERY SINGLE JEW (who can physically get there), regardless of affiliation, go to a shul/synagogue/temple next Shabbat to be there at 10:20 a.m.?

All of us. The whole tribe.

Yes, you too.

All non-Jews are welcome of course.

Any shul/synagogue/temple you want. Call it what you want, it’s the same thing.

Take a few hours off work if you are working. Get up early if it’s your day to sleep in, or stay late if you daven early.

No praying required if that’s not your thing.

Just be there, show solidarity and support.

Even if you never or rarely go.

This week’s parsha (Torah reading) is Chayei Sarah — meaning the Life of Sarah, our matriarch.

Life…Tree of life.

I, for one, hate standing around in fear.

I am not willing just to say “We don’t know what to do.”

Let’s make a statement.

United we stand.

Let’s put aside the bickering for one morning.

Let’s be together.

Be there this Shabbat.

About the Author
Betsalel Steinhart is a Licensed Tour Guide, and the Director of Education for Ramah Israel. He is privileged to live in Jerusalem with his wife and five children.
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