Our Collective Tragedy
Even thousands of miles away, it’s our sorrow too. It’s our family in pain.
Many years ago I was involved in a serious car accident right after picking my kids up from school. While pulled over to the side of the road and speaking with the police, many people stopped by to see how we were. Some even took my kids home with them to feed them and keep them away from the chaotic scene.
At one point, one of the policemen turned to me and asked, “Is there anyone here you don’t know?”
How could I explain the truth to him? I actually didn’t know anyone who had stopped to help me, including the family that fed my children dinner. It was just the kindness of the Jewish people – and the sense that we are family. If one Jew is in trouble, we all are. If one Jew is in pain, we all want to help.
I was thinking of that experience this week as the horrific scene at Meron began to unfold. Unlike my story, everyone did seem know someone who had been there – my good friend’s nephew (thank God he’s okay), an acquaintance’s nephew (not a good outcome), a neighbor’s business associate – and so it went...
But knowing them or not, we were all linked. It was our collective pain. It was our collective tragedy. We can’t stop looking at the scenes. We can’t stop talking about it. We can’t stop crying as we watch the dancing and joy turn to unfathomable sorrow.
Even thousands of miles away, it’s our sorrow too. It’s our family in pain. It’s our family who has experienced a loss. And as horrible as it is, I always think that’s a moving part of the power of the Jewish nation. The pain of people thousands of miles away, across the globe, is still our pain. We are all reeling.
All the schools canceled their planned Lag B’Omer celebrations. How could we? We all knew this was not the moment to dance in joy. Not when our brothers and sisters are in mourning.
And they are our brothers and sisters. Their joy is our joy and their tragedy is ours as well.
There are never the right words to appropriately describe the emotions of the moment at times like this but maybe words aren’t necessary. Maybe we’re just united by our tears. And maybe that’s enough. To know that wherever in the world a Jew experiences a loss, all other Jews around the world share his pain.
Of course, I don’t want the pain but I feel privileged to be a part of a people whose identification with each other is so strong and meaningful. And I pray that just as we have shared this tremendous challenge, we will also merit to share a greater measure of joy.
More on the Meron Tragedy: