A Shooting During Sukkot

We are in the midst of Sukkot, the holiday period that is referred to as Z’man Simchateinu, the Season of our Rejoicing. Given the horror that took place in Oregon yesterday, we have lost the desire to rejoice! But, on Sunday evening, we are scheduled to consecrate our third graders as they take their next step on their Jewish journey. On Sunday evening, we are also expected to celebrate Simchat Torah, the holiday that coincides with the end of Sukkot and marks both the end and the beginning of our annual Torah reading. On Simchat Torah, which means Joy of Torah, Judaism teaches us to fill the sanctuary with joyful music and dance with the Torah scrolls. The Jewish calendar does not have a pause button. Our third graders are looking forward to their Consecration celebration. Our Torah scrolls deserve our attention and appreciation. Given the overwhelming sadness that yesterday’s events fill us with, how do we continue embracing our Z’man Simchateinu/Season of our Rejoicing?

Following the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy, The Alternate Routes, a band based out of Bridgeport, Connecticut, wrote Nothing More. You can listen to it here:

The song is a lesson we must remind ourselves of while working to teach it to all of the children in our lives. The darkness out there can easily overtake us. But, Nothing More pushes us to rise above this darkness and act in a way that embraces goodness and nothing more.

To be humble, to be kind.
It is the giving of the peace in your mind.
To a stranger, To a friend
To give in such a way that has no end.
We are Love
We are One
We are how we treat each other when the day is done.
We are Peace
We are War
We are how we treat each other and Nothing More
To be bold, to be brave.
It is the thinking that the heart can still be saved
And the darkness can come quick
The Dangers in the Anger and the hanging on to it.
We are Love
We are One
We are how we treat each other when the day is done.
We are Peace
We are War
We are how we treat each other and Nothing More
Tell me what it is that you see
A world that’s filled with endless possibilities?
Heroes don’t look like they used to, they look like you do.
We are Love
We are One
We are how we treat each other when the day is done.
We are Peace
We are War
We are how we treat each other and Nothing More

We owe it to our third graders, to our Torah scrolls, to the beautiful holiday of Sukkot, to each other and ourselves, to treat each other with love and kindness. This is not only how we will find the strength to overcome the sadness we feel right now, but it is also how we will do our part to instill within our children the belief expressed so perfectly by Anne Frank: “Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart.” We can move forward by embracing this goodness, living it and passing it on.

I hope to see many of you tonight as we welcome Shabbat in our indoor Sukkah and celebrate our third graders and our Torah scrolls on Sunday evening.

Shabbat Shalom,

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