Buffalo and Uvalde beg question: How can a community be present for mourners?

Sara’s View
Sara Klein Wagner

Sara Klein Wagner

As we again mourn the murder of members of the African American community following the recent horrific shooting in Buffalo that took the lives of 10 innocent people, the families of those victims and how their community and faith will comfort them in the months ahead has been on my mind.
And now, before the burials in Buffalo have all taken place, our grief cries out for the lost lives of 19 children and two adults who were mercilessly murdered this week at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.
How do we make sense of such senseless acts? How do victims’ families and communities cope with the loss?
Earlier this year, I participated in my first Melton class on “Love, Loss & Wisdom,” which was taught by Melton Director Deborah Slosberg.
Our studies included making sense of suffering, how mourning helps heal and the “Soul’s Steps: What Happens Next?”
Designed to help learners better understand moments of anguish as individuals and a community, the six-week course was thoughtful and warm. It provided a secure environment to discuss, listen and understand each other.
We spent time talking about how we should be present for those in mourning, what to say and how to just listen.
It is not always easy to be present for those in need, to attend a funeral or a shiva. Some of us make minyans daily so others can say the Mourner’s Kaddish for loved ones, but when other people are mourning, how do we as a Jewish community ensure we are present and listening?
Losing a loved one is always difficult, and the
tragedies in Buffalo and Uvalde will impact entire communities along with the victims’ families. The Buffalo Jewish Federation, our sister federation, has been present for its neighbors, providing support. They have been attending prayer vigils and supporting those coping with food insecurity. (The Tops supermarket was the only grocery store in the neighborhood).
As I contemplate these most recent tragedies and the need for individuals to maintain hope, advocate for gun legislation and find a warm, thoughtful environment to engage in Jewish study, it is good to remember that Jewish education is not just for our children. I am grateful and proud that our community is a leader in adult Jewish education. Melton is a perfect example of lifelong learning, providing new tools to make sense of the world, of our lives and how to support others.
A quote that I read recently read on positive-judaism.org states, “The purpose of Jewish education today is to ensure that Jewish tradition empowers people to thrive in today’s world.” We are yet another generation studying texts with both old and modern commentary, taking away what is most meaningful to each of us. I am grateful to continue my own journey with Melton, studying with other adults. I encourage you to learn more at adathjeshurun.com/melton. Give me a call or email Deborah Slosberg at dslosberg@adathjeshurun.com.
May the memories of those lost in Buffalo and Uvalde be for a blessing.

(Sara Klein Wagner is the president and CEO of the Jewish Community of Louisville.)

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