On Wednesday, a violent racist tried to enter a black church. He was turned away, went into a Kroger, and shot two black shoppers.
This morning brought us the second hate-motivated shooting in under a week, this time in a synagogue. The violence is accelerating.
The synagogue where the shooting happened usually has a youth shabbat program. It was cancelled, today, so fewer children were in the building than usual. This is what fucking counts as good news. At least eight people are dead, including police and congregants. I have not found a count that separates the two tallies. I hate that jewish groups will take this as reason to work more closely with police.
How many people in how many communities are talking about this week’s torah portion, Vayera, and don’t know, yet, about the shooting? How many panicked phone calls are waiting until havdalah?
As I was reminded earlier today by Rabbi Emily Cohen, it is in Vayera where Lot bargains with Gd about Sodom and Gomorrah. His home. Are there 50 good people? Would you save it for 50 good people? How about 45? all the way down to 10. If there are any good people here please save the city, this is my community, yes i know it’s full of evil people, it's flawed but I live here.
And there are not. So Lot and his family leave, and Gd destroys the cities, leaving Lot with nothing. His wife looks back for one last memory of home and is obliterated for it.
I’ve had conversations with a number of friends recently about escape plans. About where we will go, if we can. About where we can go, and might, to escape the acceleratingly-fascist US for the less-fascist elsewhere.
I regret my choice to stay but have not yet changed it. Am I making the right choice? Is it a choice to stay and fight, or a choice to put on blinders and slowly die? Is it a choice to confront the bigots or a choice to slowly give in, a choice through inaction? But—my resources are here. My loved ones are here, for a broadly defined here.
The torah portion also includes akedat yitzchak, the binding of Isaac. Abraham takes his beloved son to be sacrificed, as he believes Gd wishes. Even as Isaac asks: Where is the sheep for the offering? You have shown me the knife and the wood, they continue up the mountain.
Am I allowing America to bind me, restrict my movements and hide my self in preparation for a sacrifice? There will be no Gdly intervention, this time. There will not be a hidden sheep, opening the way and allowing us to be free. We must not be passive. Leave or stay, we must take action. I do what I need to in order to stay alive, and I speak out against fascism. And I support others doing what they can.
We are here, and we are many; there are more of us than of them. There are more than 10, more even than 50 righteous people living in the evil and pushing back against it. If we remember to push, together.
There is no shame in leaving to preserve your life. But no matter where you are, we must work together against fascism and racism, transphobia and antisemitism and all other bigotries.
Gd calls me to write and to organize and to help and to heal, and I reply, like Abraham: Hineni—I am here.
You who build these altars now
To sacrifice these children,
You must not do it anymore.
A scheme is not a vision
And you never have been tempted
By a demon or a god.
You who stand above them now,
Your hatchets blunt and bloody,
You were not there before,
When I lay upon a mountain
And my father's hand was trembling
With the beauty of the word.