Stand in uni­son to help Pitts­burgh heal from at­tack

The News & Observer (Sunday) - - Arts - BY RABBI MARC GELLMAN – From “Does God Have a Big Toe” by Marc Gellman Send ques­tions and com­ments to The God Squad via email at god­squadques­

The at­tack in Pitts­burgh was the most vi­o­lent at­tack on Jews in the his­tory of Amer­ica. More than 11 peo­ple might have been mur­dered had it not been for the tow­er­ing courage of the po­lice who al­ways run into blood. I ask you to pray for the in­jured and pray for the fam­i­lies of the vic­tims and pray for the souls of those who sleep now for­ever un­der the wings of God’s pro­tect­ing care in Heaven.

I also want you to do some­thing to help heal all the bro­ken hearts among us. If you are Jewish, and es­pe­cially if you are not Jewish, I want you to go to syn­a­gogue ser­vices Fri­day night or Satur­day morn­ing. When you ar­rive, in­tro­duce your­self to the rabbi if it is not your syn­a­gogue and de­liver this mes­sage, “You not alone.”

I know there are many ral­lies and vig­ils planned, and they are all fine. But they are filled with more speeches than prayers, and what we need now is more prayers than speeches. Be­sides, it was a syn­a­gogue that was at­tacked, and syn­a­gogue mem­bers are scared. They are scared like that eight-yearold girl hid­ing from the gun­man in Pitts­burgh who asked her sis­ter, “Are they com­ing here next?”

On June 17, 2015 the Mother Emanuel church in Charlestown, S.C., was bathed in the blood of nine fa­tal­i­ties when they were also in the midst of prayer and Bi­ble study. They were sup­ported and sur­rounded by Bi­ble folk from around the coun­try and it helped them heal after their car­nage. We are all of us Bi­ble folk, and Bi­ble folk need to stick to­gether. We need to stay prayed up.

Houses of wor­ship will re­main tar­gets of hate not only be­cause many of them are un­pro­tected, soft tar­gets but also be­cause we are the peo­ple who teach the only an­ti­dote to this poi­sonous ha­tred. We teach that all peo­ple are made in the im­age of God and there­fore all peo­ple are sa­cred.

The an­cient rab­bis taught that be­cause of the in­fi­nite sanc­tity of each hu­man life one who takes a life is like one who killed the en­tire world. Eleven worlds were killed at Etz Hayim syn­a­gogue. The rab­bis also taught that any­one who saves one life is ac­counted by God to be like one who saved the en­tire world al­to­gether. It is time to save our worlds, but to do this we must be part­ners with each other and we must be part­ners with God.


Be­fore there was any­thing, there was God, a few an­gels, and a huge swirling glob of rocks and water with no place to go. The an­gels asked God, “Why don’t you clean up this mess?”

So God col­lected rocks from the huge swirling glob and put them to­gether in clumps and said, “Some of these clumps of rocks will be plan­ets, and some will be stars, and some of these rocks will be … just rocks.”

Then God col­lected water from the huge swirling glob and put it to­gether in pools of water and said, “Some of these pools of water will be oceans, and some will be clouds, and some of this water will be … just water.”

Then the an­gels said, “Well God, it’s neater now, but is it fin­ished?” And God an­swered … “NOPE!”

On some of the rocks God placed grow­ing things, and creep­ing things, and things that only God knows what they are, and when God had done all this, the an­gels asked God, “Is the world fin­ished now?” And God an­swered: “NOPE!”

God made a man and a woman from some of the water and dust and said to them, “I’m tired now. Please fin­ish up the world for me, re­ally it’s al­most done.” But the man and the woman said, “We can’t fin­ish the world alone! You have the plans and we are too lit­tle.”

“You are big enough,” God an­swered them. “But I agree to this. If you keep try­ing to fin­ish the world, I will be your part­ner.”

The man and the woman asked, “What’s a part­ner?” and God an­swered, “A part­ner is some­one you work with on a big thing that nei­ther of you can do alone. If you have a part­ner, it means that you can never give up, be­cause your part­ner is de­pend­ing on you. On the days you think I am not do­ing enough and on the days I think you are not do­ing enough, even on those days we are still part­ners and we must not stop try­ing to fin­ish the world. That’s the deal.” And they all agreed to that deal.

Then the an­gels asked God, “Is the world fin­ished yet?” and God an­swered, “I don’t know. Go ask my part­ners.”

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