I was on my way to Hart House. Being rerouted around University Avenue wasn’t unusual; it was Graduation Day after all. I found my parking spot and continued on foot. Maybe it was my years living in Israel, maybe it was the news from Orlando, but I noticed a look on the face of a security guard by Robarts Library. “What’s going on?” “Well, we’re not really sure. There’s been a report of a masked gunman on campus.” Soon a helicopter started to hover in circles overhead. I decided to skip my appointment at Hart House.
My children have “lock down drills” at school. They are trained to put their backs to the wall, remain very still while a screen drops down over them, making it look as if no one is there. In my day there were fire drills in single file and tornado drills down to the school basement. Some congregants may remember hiding under desks for the bomb drills of the 50’s.
“Lo Tirtzach.” “Thou shalt not murder.” On Shavuot morning we heard Dr. Naim Dallal chant these words of the Ten Commandments. Using the Torah troupe from Baghdad, Dr. Dallal commemorates the Farhud, the pogrom he witnessed as a boy 75 years ago. One hundred and thirty Jews were murdered in the streets of Baghdad that day, because imported hatred from the West was unleashed, went unchecked. The Farhud marked the beginning of the end of the long and glorious Jewish civilization of Iraq. Today there isn’t a minyan to be found there, but here Dr. Dallal has taught his Torah troupe to his grandchildren.
“Lo Tirtzach.” Two clear words. It shouldn’t take a revelation at Sinai to know them. It shouldn’t take The All-Powerful God to teach them. But clearly, it does.
What is the Source of our Security?
Laws and law enforcement must protect us from guns and hateful speech. Sorrowful platitudes are now insulting to the innocent dead and to those who mourn them. Saying “this is the way it is these days” is unacceptable. It shouldn’t take an Orlando massacre to trigger a change, but finally, it seems, enough people are angry enough to stand up and demand a change.
The Psalmist asks, “I lift up my eyes to the mountains, what is the Source of my help?” The Source that leads to man-made laws and protocols, the Source that leads to vigilant protection of and real love for fellow citizens, is the Voice we heard at Mount Sinai. May this Voice stir in us a love strong enough to conquer hate. May this Voice rise up in us to show that courage overcomes fear. May this Voice soothe the souls of the slain and comfort to the teeming numbers of broken-hearted.
*It would be unwise to share Holy Blossom’s current and future security systems, congregants should know that our Renewal Project leadership has invested significant resources in developing advanced security for our future building.