We were devastated to learn of the shooting at the Poway Chabad Center. Coming just days before the commemoration of Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day), it is hard to fathom that such an act of unspeakable hate and violence could happen again. We hold the victims and their loved ones in our hearts, and we mourn. We also recommit to taking action: we invite you to join us for prayer as a concrete way of showing we are here, and we are strong. When all of us are present in our sacred space, we fight against hate and renew our efforts to build a better, kinder and more loving world.

To frame our next steps, I share with you a poem written by Rabbi Jill Zimmerman:

A Prayer for One Who Enters a Synagogue

Pause as you stand before the entrance,
And say a brief prayer: “May my fellow worshippers and I be protected”
Touch the mezuzah, bring your fingers to your lips in a kiss,
Remember why you are here.

Notice your intention: to listen, to learn, to seek light.
Greet the greeters, and thank them for their kindness
Because what is the mitzvah of welcoming guests,
now has some danger attached.

Gather your prayer book, sit next to a friendly face.
You are now partners in whatever experience will ensue,
merely by being in the same circle of energy.

Say a silent blessing for the joy of human contact and a prayer for safety and peace this day.

You remember the dead, you speak of Oneness, you remember all the ways you are grateful.
Your final words are ones of peace.
Oseh Shalom. May the One who makes peace…

You realize what a holy journey this is, to pray, learn and sing together.
Before Pittsburgh, and before Charlottesville,
And before Poway,
You may have taken all this for granted.
But No More.

It dawns on you that gathering as Jews in America is now an act of bravery.

You breathe in your own courage; you bless your own neshama/soul for your strength.
You keep on showing up, as generations did before.

Bless your heart, bless those who greet you, those who protect you,
Bless those who come and sit next to you.

May we continue to fill this holy place with blessings and presence.

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