It is not often that I keep Shabbat.
It is not often that I spend my Saturday mornings at a synagogue.
It isn’t often that my Saturdays are spent having Shabbos lunch with those in my community who turn off their phones for 25 hours each week.
But this Shabbat marked The Shabbos Project.
An initiative started by South Africa’s chief rabbi has spread globally and encourages Jews from all walks of life to keep one Shabbat together; to come together as one community from sunset to stars out.
This Shabbat, I stopped doing and decided to embrace my place in the community.
It meant that I discovered the horrific events of Pittsburgh at the same time as the rest of my community who had blissfully spent the last few hours in the safety of the Shabbat bubble.
The next few hours were spent collecting details of the incident as the death toll rose ever higher.
Each fatality akin to a sharp object bursting a precious bubble.
My heart hurt as the names of the victims were revealed; innocent people expressing their right to freedom of religion in a place of worship which is no place for violence.
My throat tightened as I read that the shooter had called out, “All Jews must die.”
My head hurt as I read comments by people who claimed that the death of 11 people in a shameful act of anti-Semitism and pure hatred had not actually occurred, but instead been staged.
On Saturday morning, I sat in a shul in the Jacaranda-lined streets of Johannesburg while my fellow Jews in Pittsburgh were stripped of their right to do the same.
It is not often that I spend my Shabbats in a synagogue.
But this coming Shabbat I intend to, in honour of those who no longer can.