Grief Needs a Minute

Print: Erica Schultz Yakovetz

Today we saw lives taken and destroyed. Today we saw once again that anyone can walk into holy space and destroy life.

I keep thinking of the baby, whose bris (ritual circumcision) was this morning. How will this day shape his becoming?

I keep thinking of sitting in Shabbat morning services, the comfort of song and silent prayer, or looking around and meeting the eyes of those I know by name and those only whose faces I recognize, the way the light enters through the large stained glass windows of our sanctuary.

I keep thinking of the elderly people and the children and the out-of-town guests, all there to celebrate and welcome a new member of the Jewish people into his community.

I keep thinking of Charlottesville and Charleston, Ferguson and Parkland and Pulse, every black church, every public school, every grocery store, every synagogue, every planned parenthood building, every mosque, every locker room and house of learning, health care, and everyday life where it has not been safe to be a person of color, where it has not been safe to be a Jew, where it has not been safe to be a student, where it has not been safe to be a woman, where it has not been safe to be transgender, where it has not been safe to be gay, where is has not been safe, where it is not safe.

“Kill all the Jews,” the shooter yelled as he entered the building and opened fire. I am devastated for the families in that synagogue this morning, whose space will be forever a site of horror.

Just a few synonyms for Jew:


This is code

The dog whistling will not decrease. The truth-twisting and gaslighting are so staggering, it’s difficult to know where to even begin. And my words here are raw and unformed, because honestly, grief needs a minute to sink in.

They will stop at nothing, and that’s not alarmist. That’s reality.

I climbed into bed just after noon. Mani had gone out for a bit and Aviva was spending some time with my mom and Pearl’s at his dad’s. It had been a nice, quiet, rainy morning before this news; I finished reading Roxane Gay’s “Hunger,” which had been my only goal for the day. That was before Mani told me.

I took a nap. I drifted in a state of half-sleep, thinking: They want us to be scared. They want us to hide who we are. They want us to feel unsafe in our bodies, in our communities, in prayer and in protest, in our comings and goings.

I had the thought, we cannot succumb to our fear.

This afternoon, I don’t know what fighting looks like. All I know is that the midterm elections are in 10 days, and we are in a fight for our very souls. All I know is that I am with you and I am for you.

עושה שלום במרומיו
הוא יעשה שלום עלינו
ועל כל ישראל
ואמרו, ואמרו אמן

Oseh shalom bimromav
hu yaaseh shalom aleinu
v’al kol Yisrael
v’al kol yoshvei teiveil,
v’imru Amen

May the One who makes peace in the high heavens
make peace for us, for all Israel and all who inhabit the earth. Amen.

One thought on “Grief Needs a Minute

  1. Nancy Osgood says:

    Dear Jena, I shared this blog post on Facebook with a grieving Jewish friend, who is sharing it with others. May your words of pain and truth and hope go viral.



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