In congregations like my very own, we don’t use our telephones on Shabbat, so we had been unaware that across the time Orli started to recite from the Torah, 1,300 miles away, at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, a person had taken the rabbi and congregants hostage. Later that evening, once we discovered what was nonetheless unfolding, my accomplice and I whispered to one another, hoping to defend Orli and her sister, Hana, a second longer, to delay the inevitable query we knew we’d be requested: “Will it occur to us?” Orli had asked me the identical query the week after Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue was attacked in October 2018. She fearful that we might be bombed. In different phrases: Are we protected at synagogue?

To those questions, I can provide no concrete reply. I don’t wish to lie, although I’m tempted to easily insist we will likely be fantastic. I inform them: Our synagogue is effectively fortified. However my uncertainty in a time of hate and violence, not not like my uncertainty within the face of sickness, destabilizes me. It’s unsettling to permit your youngsters to know, early on, simply how little or no management you actually have. Vulnerability is at all times jarring; it’s in some way extra horrible if you end up meant to be a comforting presence. Plus, I’ve no good fashions for these queries.

Once I was a toddler, I had little to problem my perception in my mother and father’ skill to maintain us wholesome. Conversations about worry had been largely retrospective. We grew up with our Holocaust refugee kinfolk who had fled destitution and destruction to deliverance in an American promised land. The previous was horrible, however we had been within the current.

My youngsters, in the meantime, are aware of mediports, dwelling fluids and every day tablet regimens. The women intimately know the distinction between minor surgical procedures and main ones. They’ve grown accustomed to our synagogue’s steel detectors, bag checks and safety guards; they know by identify the everlasting safety officer on the door. Certainly, the officer is aware of Orli’s story effectively. When he noticed us arrive on that Saturday morning for the bat mitzvah, he and my accomplice, Ian, embraced. They each cried.

In “Beshalach” (“When He Let Go”), the Torah portion learn on Jan. 15, the Israelites have a good time their freedom, then panic within the face of uncertainty. They bitterly complain to Moses, who has led them out of Egypt, that they worry loss of life by thirst or hunger awaits them within the wilderness. The portion ends with a battle with the Amalekites, a battle, the Torah tells us, that continues from era to era. The Amalekites turn into a stand-in for a legendary everlasting enemy, an emblem of any evil that subsequently arises towards the Jewish neighborhood.


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