A horrific attack in Paris. An attack targeting Jews in Marseilles. An inspiring Federation event for alumni of the Melton program with 150 in attendance. Several terrorist attacks targeting Jews in Israel. Our staff “mitzvah day” volunteering at the Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank. Other terrorist attacks in different countries. A great event sponsored by South Hills Jewish Pittsburgh (a Federation program) as part of the Global Day of Jewish Learning.
I have been pondering all week long about my weekly message in light of all that took place. It has been a week of ups and downs in our Jewish community, the Jewish world and the world in general. I am writing this on Thursday evening having just heard that Ezra Schwartz was brutally murdered by a Palestinian terrorist and I cannot get this news out of my head. Ezra, a year older than my eldest child, went to the same Jewish summer camp I attended, where I met my wife and where I now send my children. I’m sure I walked by him at some point as I was dropping my kids off or picking them up at camp. I did not know him but my children did.
I went to Ezra’s Facebook page and saw the posts from his friends, and pictures of Ezra at my camp. Ezra’s sister was a counselor in my youngest child’s “aydah” (their age unit). I’m heartbroken near tears. I can’t imagine what Ezra’s parents are going through. I did not know Ezra personally but I’m taking this all very personally.
A colleague put a post on Facebook with a link to one of the stories about Ezra’s murder. He wrote, “May the memory of Ezra Schwartz be for a blessing. And may we channel our very justifiable outrage toward productive ends.” After Shabbat, I know all of us, Federation volunteers and professionals, will do just that and channel our very justifiable outrage toward productive ends.
Shabbat Shalom and please, please let there be Shalom.