Remember the victims; Come together for Shabbat

“How inadequate it feels to know these men’s and women’s names only as targets of senseless attack!” ~ David Feder

Many of us are still reeling from the Tree of Life shooting. This  Shabbat, communities and organizations are joining together in a Shabbat of SolidarityWe encourage you to join OneTable, the ADL, HIAS, and many others in this nationwide #SolidarityShabbat.

Start by inviting people to your home for Shabbat, so no one needs to be alone during this time. OneTable welcomes you to post your gathering on their website, and they’ve put together resources in partnership with ADL and Repair the World to elevate your dinner and build solidarity: click here for resources. Let’s bring light to the Jewish community #TogetherAtTheTable.

The following is a piece shared following the Portland vigil.

By David Feder, Portland

The thing that staggered me at Portland’s vigil for the victims of the Pittsburgh rampage was the most basic thing of all. It was the reading of the names of the victims. Eleven people who lived full lives, lives that were by no means complete stories when they were ended so suddenly.

Their names were recited in public on Sunday, for the worst time but not for the first time. They probably received elementary school awards: “And for her report on swallowing chewing gum, we’d like to recognize So-and-So.” Or later, “And second place in the 100-yard dash, So-and-So.” Or under the chuppah: “Do you So-and-So take So-and-So to be your lawfully wedded…” Or at a child’s bat mitzvah: “This candle is for all the support I got from So-and-So.” At the company picnic: “Salesman of the month So-and-So, come on up and get your award.” Or on Rosh Hashanah, “Thanks to So-and-So for blowing shofar so beautifully.” Or at a grandson’s circumcision: “So-and-So, please sit here and take the baby as we welcome him …”

What cruel mockery this list of names made of all the times their lives have been recognized for good! How inadequate it feels to know these men’s and women’s names only as targets of senseless attack!

But they – Cecil and David, Irving, Melvin, Rose, Bernice and Sylvan, Jerry, Joyce, Richard, Daniel – are now linked in a kind of family with all those who lost their lives to this terrible hatred. Maurice and Vickie – gunned down by the same hate in Kentucky. And a longer chain, to Heather in Charlottesville, and to Ricky and Taliesin right back here in Portland. And of course, more.

In Pittsburgh, the victims’ families will whisper their names to recall loving memories, of their strength, of their smile, of the feel of the skin on the back of their hand. The rest of us will have to say their names together and out loud for another purpose. Right now, we can only weep as we hold their names as our sword and shield against hatred and violence. Until the day, that is, when we can honor their names best and hold their names as plowshares and pruning-hooks.


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