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Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Columnists > Jewish Culture

Poway Shooting

May 9, 2019

By Moshe Unger - columnist

It is with great sorrow that we have to discuss another brutal shooting on a synagogue in the U.S. Just about six months passed since we have seen the most brutal antisemitic attack on these shores.
I'm in a quandary; on the one hand there is so much to write about, on the other hand what difference will my few words really make?
Then I thought that this is actually the point that we need to realize most. However, let me backtrack a bit, gather my thoughts, and lay them out in a coherent fashion.
Many people have tried to lay blame of the incident on their political opponents.
I think that doing so only overshadows the deeper issues at hand.
People in the Western World feel an existential disconnect. Some feel disconnected from their country and home towns, others from family. Some feel disconnected by all the bombardment of information and emotional pulls that come to us daily.
Many people feel that they are losing something, and that society is on a time bomb. For some it is the immediate need to stop illegal immigrants and for some is the immediate need to get rid of the current leadership in the White House. I'm not taking sides here, nor do I believe that these matters are trivial. My point is that when we look around, most people claim that they are threatened by one group or another.
The left feels threatened by the right; the right feels threatened by the left. The religious feel threatened by the secular and the secular by the religious.
Who is usually caught in the middle? The Jew. In Europe, the nationalists claimed that the Jews are a threat to their nation because they are idealists, and the idealistic communists claimed the Jews are a threat to their ideals because they are nationalists.
We see the same thing starting to emerge at the extremes of both ends in the United States. The White Supremacists believe the Jews are here to wipe out the white race and the Communists believe the Jews are the ones controlling the banks.
The irony is that if we all feel threatened, then in reality we are not threatened by anyone. Also, we are living in one of the most prosperous eras in world history. We are far from being threatened.
But the real fix to society is to reconnect. Reconnecting with family, with friends, with the neighborhood and the land we live in, with other people, and of course with the Creator and with tradition.
When the Jewish people were exiled the first time from Israel, the Rabbis established the synagogue. Instead of the central Temple in Jerusalem that united the people, the synagogues are the place to unite and connect the community.
When we feel exiled, disconnected, and far from family or country, we need to overcome it and find new ways of connection and rejuvenation.
Now let me return to my first point. We- the readers of this column and myself- are probably not in a position to fix large parts of the country. But we can make a difference. It's a phone call to a family member, a visit to a lonely neighbor, volunteering in the community, or even a warm greeting to a stranger in the store. We can also connect more to ourselves, our inner feelings, and our souls. It can be through prayer, study, or expressing gratitude. All these things are not small and trivial. They create a ripple effect to all our surroundings.
When we connect more, we'll feel less threatened and more real, and hopefully healing will descend on the world very soon.
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