How do you break the news to someone that she just lost her husband and their two young sons? How do you deal with such news?
Was she sipping her morning coffee when her phone rang or a neighbor knocked on the door? Was she cleaning the house for Passover, or already out for the day? Where was Mrs. Sandler when they told her that her 30-year-old husband and three- and six-year-olds were gunned down?
There are no words to express the pain and sorrow that pour forth from the families of the four precious lives stolen today
Losing a loved one is always tragic. Losing your children and husband to a coldblooded murderer, who shot them point-blank as they stood outside a Jewish school, is unbearable.
There are no words. There are no words to express the pain and sorrow that pour forth from the families of the four precious lives stolen today. Right now, there are other victims fighting for their lives and in desperate need of recovery. And for those who weren’t physically hurt, the trauma the school children have suffered is unimaginable, and the entire Jewish community is reeling in shock.
And shock breeds silence. This is actually one of the reasons that in the Jewish tradition the first meal for a mourner consists of a hard-boiled egg, for a mourner has no mouth. This is also one of the reasons that when coming to comfort the mourner, it is only when the mourner chooses to speak and begins the conversation that it is proper to talk. If mourners prefer silence, silent it remains.
And yet, may we actually say nothing? Might we allow innocent people to be murdered and not make our voices heard?
Our brothers and sisters in France cannot speak. Their voice has been taken from them. For now.
While they mourn, we must speak for them
While they mourn, we must speak for them. We must let the world know that we are not going anywhere, and our voices will only get louder the more others try to quiet us. This terrorist and those supporting him succeeded in causing great pain. They caused a huge loss to families and friends, a community and the entire Jewish world. But they have not and will not destroy us.
Throughout our history they have been trying to destroy us. We are two weeks away from the holiday of Pesach (Passover), when we recount the horrific conditions of an enslavement that captured the mind, body and soul. We were tortured and killed. And yet we survived. We spend the Passover Seder not only recalling the suffering, but also proclaiming the redemption that followed.
As slaves, we had no voice. We were silenced. But it is interesting to note how an interpretation of the word for Passover itself, Pesach, is that of “a speaking voice,” for peh means “mouth” and sach means “speaking.” On Passover we reclaim our voices.
Today we mourn. Today we cry. But we also must speak. We must speak for those who can’t. We must speak for those who won’t. And we must speak to ensure that we will never be silenced.