On Faith


And they were like fallen leaves, in their golden years. 
Through their memory, we re-dedicate our lives towards acts of loving kindness, faith and blessing.  We remember the 11.

The open grave of Rose Mallinger (z”l) whose life was taken at Tree of Life at the age of 97.

On Faith
By: Rabbi Lori Shapiro

What is faith?   Its meaning, derived from the Hebrew, “Emunah,” is from the same word as “Amen” as in “I believe!”.  But, what is faith?  And how does it present in today’s world? Is faith an expression of naivete, a Pollyannaish ostrich maneuver that lays our head in the sand as a windstorm blows about us?  What role does faith have in a country divided by ideology?  Does faith discriminate?  Can I be someone who says “I believe it is all going to work out for the good?” if in stating that am only considering the half of those surrounding me who possess the same beliefs that I, myself, have?

I think it’s time to dig deep into faith.  The Hebrew root begins with this sound “Om” – sounds familiar?  It’s a sound that is a universal call to peace, a sound that transcends the dizzying cubistlike perspectives of the collective and requires that we, you, me, all of us surrender to a Universal Presence.  Sometimes the Universal Presence is the need to work with what you have, no matter the political difference or moral incongruity of those who surround you.  Does it really mean taking to the streets and screaming our lungs out as a grandiose and public protest of injustice?  Or does it mean having enough presence of self to do something about it in every small moment of life?

After the shooting in Pittsburgh the President of the hospital, Dr. Jeffrey Cohen, was called upon to monitor the health of the shooter.  He went into his room and asked him if he was in any physical pain.  He spent some time with him, reviewing his chart, and monitoring his vitals.  After he was assured that his patient was cared for, he left the room.  As he was leaving, the FBI agent who was guarding the patient called out to him, “I don’t know that I could have done that.” Doctor’s Cohen’s response was succinct:

“We’re here to take care of sick people,” Cohen, who is a member of the Tree of Life congregation where the massacre happened, said. “We’re not here to judge you. We’re not here to ask ’Do you have insurance?’ or ’Do you not have insurance?’ We’re here to take care of people that need our help.”

Dr. Cohen’s actions resemble those of a man of humble faith.  Faith is about showing up when we are called upon.  With dignity. With humanity.  With discernment. Having faith is to transcend the ego and provide an elevation offering in the face of chaos that says “I see something greater here than myself; I see the workings of my Creator through My Hands, My Dignity, My Care.”  Faith is what makes this world turn in the face of insanity. Faith is what restores our human dignity in the throes of destruction. Faith is Dr. Cohen’s Act of Defiance through Decency before the face of an Anti-Semitic killer. Faith is not for the feeble hearted or ideologue.  It is not in heaven.  It is right here.  

Emunah.  Amen.  Om….