Amid drumming, chants, stories and quiet sobs, some 200 people from many faiths prayed Saturday evening at Ashland’s Havurah Shir Hadash for help in “what we are supposed to do with our grief and anger” over the murder of 11 Jews at a Pittsburgh synagogue that morning.
“Our tears will water the Earth,” said Rabbi David Zaslow of Havurah. “May peace descend on our nation and each of us and our families … and help us know what we are supposed to do with our grief and anger. Remember that as light grows in the world, it creates a darker shadow, and we eliminate the dark with more light.”
Noting that she knows people in the Pittsburgh Tree of Life synagogue, Rabbi Julia Vaughns of Ashland said the attack “sent a shock wave of grief running through our people, rolling around the world,” calling up similar overwhelming experiences their ancestors have endured.
Zaslow, wearing a prayer shawl brought to America from the Holocaust of World War II, said, “It’s so easy to take up hatred.” But instead, he led people in prayers for the government and urged people — gays, Jews, transexuals, Christians, blacks — not to hide, but “come together and be radically more of what you are in our community.”
Rabbi Jackie Brodsky of Ashland recalled the story of Abraham and the sacrifice of his son, noting the tale “has the bitter ring of truth” in the human story. But it also serves as a wakeup call for us to “open our eyes and stay the hand of execution” in poverty, war, racism, sexism, homophobia and abuse of the planet.
Other prayers noted that the murder victims were slaughtered as they were in prayer to God, celebrating a life coming into the world in a naming ceremony. While we feel the pain of those present, said Dan Wahpepah of Red Earth Descendants, “let us send a song … to let the Creator know these people are coming.”
Congregants of many faiths closed with a large circle, singing that if we “make the world from love,” God will as well.