On this journey we have been greatly detached from the news. In some cases it is the lack of transmission, in other cases we have chosen to unplug. This week the hateful synagogue massacre, killing 11 innocent people could not be ignored.
This time, it’s personal
Many of you know, Rick was born in Pittsburg. His parents were born and raised in Squirrel Hill, the home of Tree Life Congregation. The synagogue is located “right up the street from Grandma’s house.” Yes, the Ginsburgs still have family in Squirrel Hill.
For a while Rick’s parents lived in Latrobe, PA, a city in Westmoreland County, part of the Pittsburgh metropolitan area. Think small town USA. In 2017 the population was ~7,900. Home of the Pittsburgh Steelers training camp, Latrobe was also the residence of comedian Jackie Mason, iconic golfer Arnold Palmer and America’s beloved sweater wearing neighbor, Mr. Rogers.
Tree of Life Congregation, or L’Simcha, is where Rick’s parents were married, and where Rick went as a young child. The tragic news of a mass murder struck hard.
Life in a Small Town
Most big cities are really just a lot of little neighborhoods. So, just focus on your little block, your little corner of the world. In Latrobe, PA, a town where the Banana Split was created, for real, similar to small towns in Alaska, and in Squirrel Hill, everyone felt like extended family. Growing up in a small town gives you a sense of belonging, and of accountability.
Remember the Lost Souls
Perhaps it is easy to click off the news, on the radio and on the tv, to continue with your life as if nothing happened, again. Please, don’t. Don’t bury your head in the sand, and don’t forget the eleven who died:
David Rosenthal, 54; Cecil Rosenthal, 59; Richard Gottfried, 65; Jerry Rabinowitz, 66; Irving Younger, 69; Daniel Stein, 71; Joyce Fienberg, 75; Bernice Simon 84; Sylvan Simon, 86; Melvin Wax, 88; and Rose Mallinger, 97.
You can make a difference:
No matter what your religious beliefs or political persuasion – in our house we are a little of everything – we must stand together. We must have a zero tolerance for hatred and violence in all forms. We must treat all men and women with true equality AND we must honor the human rights of all the people on this fragile planet we call earth.
We can agree, or disagree on so many things, but violence cannot be tolerated.
What can you do?
- Get Out and Vote. No excuses.
- Volunteer in your community. Call your local community foundation, they love volunteers! If you are in southwest Florida, click here for my recommendation.
- Contact your elected officials, often. Remind them of their fiduciary responsibility to the citizens who elected them. Demand they act on behalf of the families they represent, and that they take a stand. Hold them accountable.
A lesson from Mr. Rogers, “Won’t you be my neighbor?”
So here’s a little challenge: If you don’t know your neighbors, go next door and say hello. You might make a new friend. And if you do know your neighbors, go check in. Form your own little neighborhood watch.
Just for fun, wear a sweater.
A message from Rabbi Harry Rosenfeld
Finally, in the words of my beloved rabbi Harry Rosenfeld (formerly from Congregation Beth Sholom in Anchorage, AK):
“We need to step out front and change our world for the better. Building a fortress and locking ourselves in does not make us safer. It lets the hate grow and ultimately win. Take positive actions. Voting, teaching kindness, and standing up for what is ethical is positive action.”
Next week we will continue with our journey on Exhale.
Meanwhile – try a little kindness.