My heart still aches after the brutal shooting of our Jewish siblings that were worshiping on Shabbat at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. Who would have had imagined that in a house of worship, where they go to find peace, healing and solace, where they go to pray to Hashem and greet each other with "Shabbat Shalom" --may your sabbath be full of peace, they would end up finding violence, hatred and eleven, a brutal death, others injured, yet all terrified, by the hands of a disturbed person, fueled by the rhetoric of the day.
My heart still aches, because no house of worship should have to hire security guards to be able to worship in peace. Guns will never bring peace! Making the victims responsible for their safety and security is not right! We have to look at a broken system, that's allowing this to continue to happen in our country and chooses to look the other way.
My heart still aches for the Black folks that were killed in the grocery store this pass week. Why is this country going backwards? Why is hatred advancing to the point were acts of violence are openly increasing towards minorities? Are we going to live in fear? Absolutely not! It is human to feel fearful. Pain is real. Fear is real, but so is hope! God is seeing our pain, our tears, and our losses.
Let us light our candles of hope. Let our lights shine for hope. Let's unite in hope, all together in solidarity, Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Blacks, Latinx, Immigrants, people with disabilities, Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals, Transgenders, Queers, the poor, Native Americans, all the disenfranchised, all of those who do not feel safe living in this country anymore... and say we will not be defeated, for God is with us! Join us! Pray with us! Lament with us! And also act with us! Let's change this world and make it better.
-Rev. Dámaris Enid Ortega, Minister
United Church of Christ Congregational
Plainfield, New Jersey
October 30, 2018