Reacting to horrific violence


The awful terrorist attacks in Brussels have shaken us here in the U.S., just as the terrible terrorist attacks in Israel during these last months have torn at our hearts.  We shed tears for the victims and their families, but how else can we react?  What can we do?  Of course we must face the fact that the threat of terror is real, and governments and law enforcement must take steps to guard against it and to bring its perpetrators to justice.  And of course we must each take reasonable steps to ensure our own safety, as we are continually doing at GJC by working with Jewish communal agencies and law enforcement to keep us safe.  But by themselves, these two strategies are not enough.  These horrific events also challenge us to take steps to connect with those around us who are different from ourselves so that we can show them and ourselves that we are all human and deserving of respect despite our differences. From Jewish history – including the story of Esther that we just read on Purim – we learn how dangerous it can be to wall ourselves off from those around us in the name of security.  As tempting as it can be when faced with violence to react only with anger and aggression or only with fear and withdrawal, we must push ourselves to also redouble our efforts to reach out in a safe, sane, balanced way to those around us who could so easily view us as less than human and thus targets of violence.  In the long term, helping everyone to recognize that all humanity was created in the image of the divine is the best route to security for all.