Sunday, June 12, 2016

A Prayer in the Aftermath of the Orlando Mass Shooting

I offered a prayer on behalf of the Denver Jewish Community at a solidarity vigil for the victims of the terrorist attack that took place last night in Orlando.  Joining me in prayer were Imam Ali of the Denver Islamic Center and Reverend Amanda Henderson of Interfaith colorado. Most of Denver and the State of Colorado's elected officials were in the program as well as representatives of the LGBTQ community. Here are my words:

A Prayer in the Aftermath of the Tragedy in Orlando
Rabbi Joseph R. Black – Temple Emanuel – Denver, CO
June 12, 2016
Our God and God of all people:
God of the rich and God of the poor,
God of the powerful and God of the powerless,
God of those who have no God.
This is a sacred time for the Jewish and Islamic communities.
Last night and today, Jews all around the world celebrated the festival of Shavuot, or Pentecost – where we gave thanks and celebrated the gift of Divine revelation through the Torah.
Our Muslim sisters and brothers are the midst of the sacred month of Ramadan.  They, too, are celebrating the gift of God’s revelation in the Koran.
This is a time when we are acutely aware of the potential for good in the world.  This is a time when Your children are open to the Universal messages of peace and love found in our sacred texts.

But as the horror in Orlando has once again shown us, and as we have seen all too often:  In France, in Israel, Syria, Lebanon, Afghanistan, and in locales too numerous to mention, there are those who refuse to see the holiness of all of Your creation.
When fear and hatred become the filters through which Your hopes for humanity are received we all are diminished.

And so we come here tonight - numb with grief and disbelief.  Once again, violence and the carnage brought about by the deadly combinations of hatred, intolerance and easy access to weapons of destruction have transformed mothers, fathers, lovers, spouses, relatives and friends into mourners. 
Tonight, we are all mourners.  The categories which once defined us – who we love, how we love; where we pray and when we pray; the languages we speak and the music we sing have melted into the common parlance of our anger and our grief.
We are here tonight to show solidarity.
We are here tonight to proclaim the inherent goodness in all of your creation.
We are here because we have to be here – to see within each others’ eyes the determination to stand up to hatred, bigotry and inhumanity.  Tonight we grieve – tomorrow we work to tear down the walls of intolerance that too many want to build.

Baruch Ahtah Adonai, she bara et ha-adam b’tzalmo.  We praise You, Eternal – who has created all humanity in your image.  AMEN