Yesterday, I met a hero. He didn’t call himself a hero. He simply told me, “Rabbi, I am a loyal friend.” His name is Mher, an Armenian-Lebanese-Christian young man who was simply out for sushi with his Jewish friends in Los Angeles last week. What was going to be a quiet night of food and friends turned out to be a night we could never imagine–an anti-Semitic attack on Jews. While others looked on, Mher stepped up, both protecting his Jewish friends, and all the patrons at Sushi Fumi.
With the help of Sinai Temple member Shervin Rashti, we were able to meet Mehr for lunch. We embraced, and he told us, “I was there for the right reason.” After the attack, Mher was invited to his friend’s home for his first Shabbat dinner, where he asked, “You do this every week?”
In the midst of conversation, Mher commented, “This July, I am going to Israel.” Shervin and I looked at each other in disbelief, as Mher continued, “I have been receiving messages of thanks from around the world, including Israel. I am excited to go see the land and the people.”
Mher is a simple photographer who you may have passed by at a wedding in Los Angeles as we have danced the nights away. But last week, he put his camera down and protected his friends and so many others.
Tonight, we will gather for Israel Solidarity Shabbat. We will hear from the Consul General of Israel, we will sing songs and prayers together, and we will stand united as a Jewish people.
And tonight–we will simply say thank you to Mher. We will not thank a hero. But we will acknowledge a loyal friend, we will welcome a new deep relationship with our neighbor, and we will pray for a Shabbat Shalom, a day of peace.