Dayeinu! I wish I could wait until Passover to say these words. Yet again, we wake up to a mass shooting. For us in Los Angeles, Pittsburgh felt spiritually close. Yet, today, in Los Angeles, Thousand Oaks was physically close. As I was glued to the television, I watched the procession of the hearse of Sergeant Ron Helus down the freeway. Thousands of citizens in the greater Los Angeles area lined sidewalks, streets, and overpasses. Traffic ground to a halt on the opposite sides, paying respects to a man who put his own life in front of others to save lives. Immediately following, I walked into our sacred chapel and officiated at an aufruf for a bride and groom to be married next week. Down the hall, a baby boy was being brought into the covenant at a brit milah. Hundreds of students voices filled the halls learning words of Torah.
The midrash tells the story of a non-Jew who asked, “Can the Jews ever be destroyed?” The answer, “Not until the voices of children are no longer in their study halls.”
While study will not solve the difficult issues our nation faces, our tradition does lend itself to lessons that will allow our next generation to act for a more just, more kind, and ultimately more peaceful world.
Today is Rosh Chodesh Kislev, where we welcome the month that contains Hanukkah. As we light the candles in a matter of weeks, we say maalin bkodesh vlom moridin, we should only ascend in holiness, and not descend. We do not extinguish light, but rather we attempt to create it.
In this dark week of loss and hatred, may we find a small spark that will once again ignite the goodness we seek for a week of shalom, of peace, and nechama, of comfort.