A message from Reb Rachel after the Boston Marathon bombing

Dear Congregation Beth Israel members and friends,

What an unexpectedly painful week this has been. I know that the bombing at the Boston marathon weighs heavy on all of our hearts.

It is difficult to make sense of this kind of tragedy. But I believe that when we mourn, God mourns with us; and that when we care for one another, God is manifest in the acts of our caring hearts and hands.

A few of my colleagues have written prayers which have been helpful to me this week. Here’s how one of them begins:

God of Runners
God of Responders

We mourn the loss of life
Our cries crack through the icy spring of Minneapolis
To the blood-soaked streets of Boston.

As we remember those whose lives were taken by senseless hate
Lives and limbs torn apart in the blasts of bombs
As we remember people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds
Who seek the help of doctors and therapists, of communities and clergy
Let us open our hearts to heal and hope….

That’s God of Runners, God of Responders by Rabbi Aaron Weininger, a fellow Rabbis Without Borders Fellow.

And here is another:

On this day of destruction, we need to remember that the race is not for the swift; there is no finish line for those who seek a better world.
Neither bombs, nor blood, not death, nor destruction can deter us from running, O God.
We run to You.
We run towards a vision of perfection that is always in our sights.
We run determined to never allow hatred to obscure Your presence.
We run to build a better world.

That’s from A Prayer in the Aftermath of the Boston Marathon Bombing by Rabbi Joe Black.

Both of these are powerful prayers; I hope that you may find some comfort in reading or reciting them.

The URJ has shared URJ Resources on Bereavement: prayers, ideas, and resources, including links such as “Helping Children and Adolescents Cope with Violence and Disasters: What Parents Can Do,” which I highly recommend to all of the parents among us.

I have also found meaning in Rabbi Arthur Waskow’s reflection For Boston: Love & Justice, which sets this horrific act in greater historical context. And for a different sort of response, I hope that you may find something of value in my own post We find God in the helpers, which I shared at Velveteen Rabbi on the night of the bombing.

If there are resources, readings, and reflections which you are finding particularly meaningful this week, please feel free to share them on the synagogue’s Facebook page or in the comments to this post on the From the Rabbi blog so that others in our community can benefit from what has helped you.

And, most of all: if you need to talk about what this has brought up for you, I am here. Email me (my cbiweb.org email address is once again working) or call me and we’ll find a time to connect. (If you don’t have my cell number at hand, you can call me at shul: 413-663-5830.)

I trust that in time our fragile sense of safety in the world will heal. When it does, I hope we can enter into some communal conversations about the tragedies we have witnessed during 5773 (from the Sandy Hook shootings to this week’s bombing in Boston) and about how we can respond meaningfully to these in the worlds of action, emotions, thought, and spirit.

May the Source of Peace bring comfort to all who mourn, and all who are frightened. May God strengthen us in our love for one another and for those who grieve.

I am holding each of you in my prayers and in my heart.

Reb Rachel

One response to “A message from Reb Rachel after the Boston Marathon bombing

  1. Rabbi, let me make a suggestion for those who desire to do something but don’t know what. Right now, Boston is full up with blood donations, because of all the runners who went straight to the hospital and offered themselves up. However, in about 2 weeks, that supply will be very depleted, and there are many people who were injured who will be needing that blood. If you’re the type to give blood or platelets, please consider waiting until the end of April to do so, when your donations will be sorely needed.

    Thanks… Ally

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