“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” Psalm 133:1
Our city is close enough to Pittsburgh that few people here are more than two degrees of separation away from the Squirrel Hill neighborhood that experienced a mass killing at a synagogue this weekend. One neighbor’s sister lives near to where 11 people died on Saturday. A dear friend has lived and worked in the neighborhood. Another friend still works there.
So, perhaps it was no surprise that when our own city’s synagogue opened its doors to the community on Sunday, people showed up in force to grieve, to hope and to stand for “common decency.” A crowd of several hundred filled the sanctuary and spilled out into a fellowship area, the lobby, a small stage and into the lawn outside at least two doors that were thickly flanked by police.
“We are not alone,” said local Rabbi Joshua Lief. And, that was evident.
Here, this weekend, people came together in community even if they lack unity in many aspects of their lives. That is why Jews and Christians, Hare Krishnas and the occasional athiest could stand side by side. That is why people of every skin and hair color — even purple — could cry together. That is why tiny babies and old men with canes and kippahs could fellowship. Even Democrats and Republicans laid down their ideological arms on this occasion.
It wasn’t perfect. Theological and cultural divisions still abound. But, it reminded me of the sense of community and common decency that has held America together for so long. If we agree on nothing else, surely we can unite in doing better than pipe bombs and shootings, than rantings and postings filled with hate.
We can and we must if we are to survive as a nation. May God help us all!