Gripped by the shootings at Marjory Stoneham Douglas High School, I emailed my friend whose son is a first responder in a neighboring county to Parkland, Florida. I did not hear from her until the next morning after her church group had taken a vacation from technology.
As I continued to watch events unfold I remembered my brother said his wife’s family from Parkland had come for them to house them during Hurricane Irma. Checking in with my brother I learned that indeed his son-in-law’s family was affected by the rampage, not to the extent of the unfortunate deaths other families will suffer for the rest of their lives, but by sounds and images through a closet door at the school.
The sadness further struck home with the death of Alyssa Alhaleff at MSD High School who was a yearly camper at Camp Coleman, about an hour’s drive from my home in North Georgia. Our small Jewish congregation, Shalom B’harim – Peace in the Mountains – celebrates High Holy Day Services outdoors at the Camp Coleman Amphitheater. And so I listened to the virtual healing service for Camp Coleman on Facebook this morning.
I thought of the difference a week makes when last Friday night I watched services streamed from Temple Beth El in Boca Raton. That Sabbath was a celebration of the renovation of the main chapel with symbols of renewal including technology, to ensure future generations could participate in the service, honor milestone birthdays and renewal of wedding vows. I heard and felt community as I had worked at the Temple for one year after my divorce of a short-lived marriage, where my cup was filled with tradition and caring.
For the past two days I have seen Senior Rabbi Dan Levin’s name surface again, in his facilitating a community conversation at Temple Beth El about gun violence – in the Jewish tradition of gathering to support each other. How much can clergy, clergy of all faiths, whose hearts are bleeding and need consolation themselves, bear?
I have phoned my senators, joined Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and will continue to celebrate the lives of those taken from this earth far too early. I will listen and support the young voices who are seeking action now and echo authorities and fierce parents who encourage reports of questioned behavior. I shall continue to mentor kindergarten students each week, to celebrate, honor, and support teachers at every level. We all can’t do everything, but each of us can do something.
I am advancing my Resilience Conversations knowing there are thousands of employees with deep personal concerns whose allegiance to their employers are significant. There are entrepreneurs trying to reach an audience who might have only 10% strength, or who themselves have found their coveted dreams paralyzed by current events. Let’s talk to one another, in truth and with consolation.
Evelyn Asher is a Communications Coach, with a passion to build resilience to enhance lives.