What To Do Now

Instead of posting the same thoughts and feelings and political ideas that we all share, I wanted to write something more positive. What can people do in the wake of the tragedy in Pittsburgh this weekend to try to make the world a little better? I would like to offer a few suggestions. First, whether you are Jewish or not, go to morning services at a nearby synagogue this coming Saturday morning! (Or depending on how the particular synagogue rolls, on Friday evening). You will like it, and your neighbors will appreciate the support. Sometimes when people talk about the Jews’ most important innovation they talk about monotheism, but I would give the Sabbath as my answer. If you are looking for suggestions in the Boston area, let me know and I can give you some pointers. Update: There is now a hashtag for this idea organized by the AJC: #ShowUpForShabbat.

Second, do something to support refugees. This shooting was like a punch in the gut to American Jews, but two things stand out in my mind that make it particularly awful. Worst of all, a family was celebrating their newborn son’s bris at the synagogue. Imagine having such a joyous occasion turn in a moment into a scene of horror and tragedy. But I also have read that the murderer had been motivated by the fact that the Jewish community and many Jewish communal organizations work to support refugees. How could it be otherwise, given that most American Jews descend from refugees or economic migrants in the not-too-distant past, and given our collective memory of the exodus from Egypt? “You shall not oppress a stranger, since you know the feelings of the stranger, having yourselves been strangers in the land of Egypt.” Send a message to people like this murderer that supporting refugees who need help isn’t some strange, Jewish, globalist idea for rootless cosmopolitans, but is just the right thing to do.

Third, please do not link this tragedy to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Here is an example of what not to do—a comment from Baroness Tonge, a member of the House of Lords who was suspended from the Liberal Democratic Party for her awful ideas:

Tweet from Jenny Tonge

Finally, consider attending one of the vigils that are going to be held all over the country. If you are in Boston, the vigil is at 2 p.m. Sunday on the Common.

2 responses to “What To Do Now”

  1. Alessandro Spinillo

    I’m terribly sorry about this. My prayers with the victims’ families and friends.

  2. Michelle Etlin

    It is astonishing to me that people (some Jews included) do not see the undeniable and irremediable link-up between “neo”-fascism [sic] and anti-Semitism. A friend of mine who is an independent Arab journalist phoned me when he heard about the Tree of Life Attack to say: “YOU PREDICTED THIS! How did you know?” I answered, “how could anybody NOT know?”
    As soon as you have a demagogue stoking hatred, fanning the flames of xenophobia and fear-mongering, celebrating, glorifying and even calling for violence, and turning political adversaries into “enemies” who need to be “locked up,” you will have the concurrent rise of anti-Semitism. It never fails — unless there are no Jews available. And even then, it can flourish if only in the fevered imagination of terrorized, inadequate, cowardly people. My friend the Arab journalist points out that Arab populations being brutalized by their own governments carry protest signs saying “Death to the Jews” when the people killing them are not the Jews, but their own people, most often their own rulers. Yemen is an example right now. At war with Saudi Arabia, being attacked by American drones and Saudi firepower, “the Jews” are still the convenient distraction.
    I’m frank to say that not only did I expect this but I expect more, and, if such a thing is possible, and God forbid, even worse. The present level of rage, fear, resentment, ignorance and easy acceptance of brutality in this country is simply too big to be “toned down” or controlled at this point (even if there were any actual governmental desire to “tone” it down. And the on-line sources of screaming rage and hatred are dizzying and inexorable. I call it the “Loser Rage-Net.” It is robust and, to terrorized stupid people, irresistible.
    There will be a dozen explanations of this massacre that will “work” for the neo-fascists who have taken over our country: I have already heard that this has been caused by the insecurity everybody feels because of the mid-terms. Naturally, the idea that absolute power might be tempered with free elections will make people want to kill, right? Other conspiracy theories will arise quickly. I’m sure Soros will be targeted as the cause of the “problem” — the conspiracy theorists are probably cranking them out as I type, only faster.
    An old story: Let people get away with murder and they will. Oh sure, this shooter won’t “get away,” but those who inspired and “radicalized” him will go on to train and inflict cadres of others who, like him and like Dylan Storm Roof, find their reason to live, their manhood, in the only place it could ever be found.

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