Three months before 11 worshipers were slain in a Pittsburgh synagogue in what authorities have described as an anti-Semitic rampage, the synagogue’s rabbi wrote about the continuing scourge of mass shootings in American schools and the political inaction so far to address it.
“Unless there is a dramatic turnaround in the mid-term elections, I fear that that the status quo will remain unchanged, and school shootings will resume,” Tree of Life Rabbi Jeffrey Myers wrote on July 19 under the title “We Deserve Better.”
“I shouldn’t have to include in my daily morning prayers that God should watch over my wife and daughter, both teachers, and keep them safe,” Myers continued then. “Where are our leaders?”
On Saturday morning, a gunman armed with three handguns and an AR-15 opened fire on services inside Tree of Life, killing 11 and wounding six others, including four responding police officers.
Prosecutors have said the suspect, now in custody, allegedly talked about genocide and killing Jews during his massacre. He faces nearly three dozen federal charges, many of which carry a maximum sentence of death.
Rabbi Myers wrote regularly on his blog about current events, Judaism and daily life.
In his most recent post, on Oct. 24, he discussed the importance of a joyous occasion, or simcha, in life — for who knows when another will arrive?
“None of us can say with certainty that there is always next year. This is our hope, our dream,” Myers wrote in a post titled “A Little Bit of Joy.”
He continued, “Would it not be far better to celebrate a simcha because you made the time, and be able to state at the end, ‘I’m glad I came. I look forward to celebrating with you next year.’ “
Myers wrote that, perhaps too often, “Most of us manage to find the time to attend a funeral, but do not possess the same fervor when it comes to a joyous event.”
One should never lose site of life and the future, he wrote.
“There is a story told in the Talmud of a wedding procession and a funeral procession heading along parallel roads, with the roads intersecting,” Myeres wrote. “The question asked is: when they meet at the fork, which procession goes first, funeral or wedding?
“The correct answer is wedding, as the joy of the couple takes precedence. In fact, the funeral procession is to move out of sight so that their joy is not lessened. Every birthday celebration unobserved is one less opportunity in your tank.”
And when those finite moments are lost, they are not regained so easily, Myers wrote.
He ended his post, in part, “While death is inevitable and a part of life, we still take our leave with the best possible blessing, to meet at joyous events.”