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?”
We all ask – how can I help prevent this from happening again? What can I do?
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.
2 for Seder
2 for Seder is an immediate step we can take together. Simply invite two people who have never attended a Seder to your Seder at home. For me, Seder is the heart of who we are as Jews. It’s replete with a miracle-filled structured journey, the chaos of people questioning and debating, and topped off with so much delicious food that you wish you were wearing sweatpants. Opening your Seder to newcomers directly addresses biased attitudes and general ignorance – the seed of all anti-semitism. Start a dialogue and create a ripple-effect to enrich our shared American and Canadian experience.
If you are participating in a Seder for the first time, hold onto your seat! You will be a seamless part of that wonderful structure and chaos. Your participation helps all guests relive the wonder of the Seder for the first time, seeing our journey anew. Your participation is a true insight into the soul of Judaism and your participation will help us all see that soul in a fresh, wonderful light. Your participation honors all of us. Did I mention the sweatpants?
As for me, I hosted Seder for the past 12 years with Joyce. It took years for us to become a seamless team, holding a Seder for 20-25 people each year. 2 for Seder is held in honor of her memory. If you can participate, as Host or Guest, know that you are connected to Pittsburgh through bonds of love and matzah. Raise a glass to all our fallen and never forget.
—Marnie Fienberg, February 2019