“Let ALL who are faithful to God’s covenant and obeys his Law, follow me.” 1 Maccabees 2:27
As I write this column several events of the last few weeks come to mind. The Murders on Shabbat at the Tree of Life Synagogue and at the Borderline Night Club, the Vigil held here at City Hall in Burbank and the Funeral for Sgt. Helus held at the Calvary Community Church in Westlake Village.
I was honored to be able to attend Sgt. Helus’ funeral with seven other members of the Burbank Police Department along with my fellow /chaplain Fr. Jose Poch. One comment stands out from that day that brings together all the events.
I was sitting next to one of the Burbank PD Lieutenants and he said, while he too was honored to be at the funeral,” It is more important for the young officers to be here. They sit in roll call, 10 to 15 people and fell so alone. Seeing so many (there were around 2,000 uniformed officers and many hundred Law enforcement people in civilian clothes) it may help them over their aloneness to know they are part of a great family of brothers and sisters”.
This quote continues to strike me. It goes to how we felt after hearing both sets of news about Pittsburgh and Thousand Oaks and how we feel when we have survived the loss of a loved one, abject Loneliness !
Let me deal with how our community in Burbank helped me deal with the Pittsburgh Loneliness. That loneliness was based on fear. Would we be next? I walked into the Bar Mitzvah we were having that morning and immediately called BPD. I was told that patrols had already been dispatched to patrol our perimeter and the perimeter of the other synagogues. That night I received a text from the Captain of Patrol that for the rest of the week double patrols would be sent to the Temples.
True to BPD’s word, there were patrol cars in our parking lot when the teachers arrived all week at 7:30 AM.
The next event to alleviate our feelings of being alone in the presence of such evil as Pittsburgh, was the Vigil Tuesday evening on the Steps of City Hall. I was held Outside! So all could see that our community was united behind the Jewish Community. The Mayor, the Police Chief, the Human Relations Council, the Ministers’ Association all came with us when asked to help alleviate the horrible feelings of loneliness. Not one word of negativity or reluctance.
Soon after the Borderline Shooting, a Facebook post of one of our members spoke of the death in the Borderline shooting of a lifelong friend. I texted my condolences. That longtime friend, along with all the victims of the two murders, are in my memorial prayers for the next 11 months.
I hope my words of consolation were helpful. I received a thumbs up emogi.
The large scale outpouring of love and support here in Burbank, in Westlake Village and throughout the world by our people and our friends is only the beginning.
There have been many suggestions about how to react to both shootings. For all people, licensing of gun ownership is a must. I have an educational plan worked up. Ask me about it.
Next, we must monitor hate speech. Words have power. Both assailants used the media to state their goals. That insidious volume, Mein Kompf, was also published and no one believed he, too, was serious.
Always, be proud of who we are. Be visible in our Communities, wherever we live. Talk about our religion. Teach what it preaches, especially Leviticus 19, “Love thy neighbor as thyself” and “Thou shall not sit idly by the blood of your neighbor”. I am so proud to be your Rabbi in Burbank where the people of Burbank have been good neighbors to us and stood by when Jewish Blood was spilt.
At this time of Hanukkah, a time of rededication, may we rededicate ourselves to our Temple, our people and our nations and to others bringing them to community and away from loneliness whenever and however is their loss. We need to rededicate to helping others.