I looked at Facebook yesterday morning and saw this message from my friend Felipe Goodman, a Rabbi in Las Vegas. I hadn’t read the news yet, so his posting caught me off guard.
We are all horrified and shocked by the events that took place last night in our city. Many of us just woke up and are trying to understand what exactly happened last night. The most important thing right now is to make sure all our families and friends are ok and safe. Please, please send me an email letting me know you are ok email@example.com or call TBS. Also, if you know of a family in crisis or someone who needs help please let me know. It is important that we come together at a time like this. If you are sitting at home watching the news and you are wondering what you can do…. Please donate blood this morning, it is important. Our tradition requires us to engage in acts of Pikuach Nefesh (life saving measures) at times like these.
I immediately looked at the news and was horrified at the violence and devastation. A lone gunman, with unknown motives, opened fire from a hotel window and killed 59 people and injured hundreds. After the scenes of natural destruction in Houston, Florida, Mexico, and Puerto Rico this seemed somehow especially tragic.
I find myself in tears over Rabbi Goodman’s post. He just wants an email from people to know they are safe. He is encouraging people to donate blood so that hundreds injured can get the medical care they need. These are such basics of community and of caring. They had a prayer vigil last night at his Synagogue partly to mourn but also to simply gather amid sorrow and loss.
I feel overwhelmed by the images. I feel upset, sick even, to understand how someone could do this and how it is even possible to take that kind of firepower into a hotel room and set up as a sniper. It feels like a deep wound as we’ve seemingly set a new bar for these kinds of horrific shootings.
As Sukkot quickly comes upon us I urge you to think of taking three steps:
- Find a way to donate blood. This murderous assault reminds all of us that in every community blood donations save lives every day that never make the press. We can all easily make sure there is enough blood for everyone in need.
- Donate to IsraAid. Their work in Puerto Rico, Houston, Mexico, and Florida is saving lives and rebuilding community.
- Come to services Thursday for Sukkot. I know, this seems like an outlier. But I am so moved by Rabbi Goodman’s words, and so reminded about how important community is. We don’t realize when things are stable how much we need Synagogue. So come and be a part of our community so that we can always be there for one another.
Evil disheartens. I hope that somehow this horrible act can inspire us to do good, to build communities that matter, and to help those in need.
May God offer comfort to those in mourning, healing to those wounded, and strength to all of us.
Rabbi David Booth