On October 27, 2018, the bottom fell out of my world. After hours of waiting and worrying, the worst thing possible happened — my wonderful mother-in-law, Joyce Fienberg was one of the 11 murdered at the Tree of Life synagogue while she prayed as she did every Shabbat. The weeks that followed were the most difficult of my family’s life — Joyce was the glue that kept our extended family together.
During our Shiva (week of mourning), we were held up by thousands of people, both family and strangers, Jews and non-Jews. The outpouring of love and support still gets me through each day. What I heard over and over was, “How can I help?” At first, I thought they meant, “How can I help you get through this sorrow?” — something you typically say to a mourner. After a while, though, I realized they were also saying, “How can I help prevent this agony from happening again?”
According to one of our partners, ADL (Anti-Defamation League), hate crimes are rising across America. In addition, according to the FBI, more than half of the religion-based hate crimes are directed against Jews and Jewish institutions, including the murder in Pittsburgh. How can we help? Each American and Canadian Jew can help take a small step toward fighting anti-semitism by addressing the “mystery” of being Jewish, the “Other” in a society filled with many wonderful and diverse cultures from across the world. If a thousand of us take a small step together, we will make a real impact.