created at: 2013-04-16Yesterday’s attack at the Boston Marathon finish line has shaken us. Now, on the day after, we have to ask, “What are we to do?” One response is that the Jewish community is here to provide comfort and begin healing.

As we have been doing since yesterday afternoon, we should continue to connect with friends and family, keeping in mind that they may have a loved one who has been impacted by these events. As a community, we should continue to care for one another. Parents should have age-appropriate conversations with their children, in order that they may ask questions and try to understand what happened in their own way. We should make sure that we are paying attention to our own safety and mental health as well. Attacks such as this can have a real effect on our well-being. Each of us will have a story about April 15, 2013. Some may feel connections between this and other recent tragedies. Or this may bring up old memories and wounds. For those who feel such associations, it is critical that we talk about them. Seek out a rabbi, counselor, or mental health professional as is necessary.

Prayer can also help. Though it will not undo what was done, it can set our intention as to how we go about our days. We can pray for comfort for the families of those killed and injured, we can pray for wisdom and guidance for individuals in positions of leadership, and we can pray that those empowered to seek justice might know a clear mind and a reasoned hand. Over the next few days there will be a number of opportunities in our broader community to gather for prayer. We gain strength as a community when we come together to support one another. I hope you will take part in one of these gatherings.

In the Boston Jewish community, the explosions came at a strange moment. Amidst Patriot’s Day, and Tax Day, yesterday was also Yom HaZikaron, Israeli Memorial Day, and today is Yom HaAtzma’ut, Israeli Independence Day. On these two days we are enjoined to remember and then to celebrate. As we grapple with the meaning of yesterday’s marathon tragedy, we hold a similar paradox. Drive along Heartbreak Hill today and you will see chalk drawings encouraging runners to keep going, to believe that they can complete a challenging physical feat. That belief that we can overcome adversity, and direct ourselves through and beyond our challenges, remains today, even as we begin to mourn the three who lost their lives and continue our work to comfort and support individuals injured and affected in this tragedy.

As we confront this difficult time, may we find comfort and solace in the company of one another and our Jewish community. And may we continue to pray for a day when heartbreak such as this will not be known.

created at: 2013-04-16

Rabbi Neil Hirsch is a rabbi at Temple Shalom, a Reform synagogue in Newton. Follow him on Twitter @nehirsch.

Too recently, InterfaithFamily’s staff shared how they were talking about tragedy with their families. Today, they shared the words of an adapted mi shebeirakh, or prayer for healing, written by a cantorial student at Hebrew College.