(these words were inspired by a long-time friend’s son, Thomas Corocan, who works for Bend the Arc- Jewish social Justice group) 

I’m heartbroken that 11 Jews who names we just hear were shot during Shabbat prayer this past week in Pittsburgh.

 I’m heartbroken that Maurice E. Stallard and Vickie Lee Jones were shot this past week in Kentucky because they were Black, and that the shooter was attempting to enter a Black church.

 I’m heartbroken that trans and non-binary and intersex folks are being threatened and dehumanized by the removal of legal protections.

 I’m heartbroken that it has become so acceptable to demonize the press and political opposition that we got news of 12 or more bombing attempts last week.

I am heartbroken that refugees from violence in Central American are being welcomed with food and medical assistance and offers of asylum from Mexico but cannot look forward to a similar welcome from us.

And the list goes on.

And yet, I gain hope from this community gathering. We need the energy, safety and faith that comes from us being together in this community.

During this hard time I want to share with you an excerpt from Aurora Levins Morales’ interpretive “ V’Ahavta” – a traditional Jewish prayer. Morales is a Puerto Rican Jewish/ American poet.
Don’t waver. Don’t let despair sink its sharp teeth
Into the throat with which you sing.  Escalate your dreams.
Make them burn so fiercely that you can follow them down
any dark alleyway of history and not lose your way.
Make them burn clear as a starry drinking gourd
Over the grim fog of exhaustion, and keep walking.
Hold hands. Share water. Keep imagining.
So that we, and the children of our children’s children may live 

The mourner’s Kaddish is said to elevate the souls of those who have passed on. It never mentions death but guides us to praise the mysterious Source of Life and Love even in the face of death.

– Leonard Cohen in his Book of Mercy (Ch. 15) teaches us how to say this prayer during a time like this. We stand in rags, we beg for tears to dissolve the immovable landmarks of hatred. 

The great essence will flower in our lives and expand through the world. May we learn to let it shine through we can augment its glory. We praise, we continue to praise, and yet, whatever it is we praise, is quite beyond the grasp of all these words and symbols that point us towards it.

We know and yet we do not know.

May great peace pour forth from the heavens for us, for all Israel, for who struggle towards goodness and truth.

May that which makes harmony in the cosmos above, bring peace within and between us, and to all who dwell on this earth and let us say; Amen.