Thoughts Regarding the Tragedy Of A Member Of Our Community
Sunday 11/22/2015 at 11:05AM my husband and I arrived at Temple Sinai in our precious small town of Sharon Massachusetts for the funeral of a member of our community;18 year old Ezra Schwartz. The funeral was to begin at 12:00PM, and yet at 11:05AM as we approached the side doors to enter, we saw through the clear glass walls that the interior of this large synagogue was already filled to capacity, it’s occupants in prayer. All seats were filled. The synagogue was packed with mourners. The overflow crowd was gathering outside with men, women and teens continuing to arrive and crowding the back deck and lawn area. There was a sea of people. What a powerful example of the coming together of many in support of the Schwartz family – a family in our dear community, and to stand up together against the atrocity of terrorism.
We saw friends and neighbors from Sharon, folks from the greater Boston area, and people whom traveled from other states to pay their respects. There were loud-speakers set up outside which allowed us all to hear and experience each moment that occurred inside the synagogue. We all huddled together outside. As the rain came down, we huddled in closer. Well over 1,000 people gathered outside, and well over 1,000 people were seated inside. The funeral was live streamed for all the world to see.
My blog article today focuses on 4 thoughts post this tragedy and emotionally moving funeral:
- Rabbi Sendor – Eulogy
- Ezra Schwartz’s Family – Eulogy
- If You Think We Are Not At War Then You Are In Denial
- Ezra Schwartz Is A Symbol Of The Problem With America’s War On Terror
Rabbi Sendor – Eulogy
Rabbi Sendor of the synagogue; Young Israel Of Sharon, provided a thought provoking and moving Eulogy. One statement in particular that appeared to me to move many was: “His life was a meaningful life, his death is a meaningful death.” I found this statement both touching and heartbreaking. No parent should ever experience the loss of one’s child. Many parents in attendance could not help but to think; this tragedy could have happened to any one of us. It is that vulnerability all of us as parents feel and felt. For terrorism is not just residing in Israel, this event is a forceful reminder that it still profoundly exists in Israel, though it exists among us here in America. We congregated together during this painful time for this family, for our community, and for our country.
Why do people kill others was a question Rabbi Sendor asked. Unfortunately, one answer to this question has everything to do with religion. Rabbi Sendor discussed that we are locked in a struggle. He explained what we are struggling with is the “destiny of humanity against the forces of hatred and destruction”. I find myself thinking about this statement and wondering: is it destiny to experience hatred and destruction? For if this is destiny then how can we fight destiny? Can destiny be changed through choice? And what choices, I wonder, can we as a country make to save us from those who wish to destroy us? Rabbi Sendor explained that “Ezra is a part of this struggle”. Indeed.
Ezra Schwartz’s Family – Eulogy
When Ezra’s father came up to the podium and shared with us all that he knows Ezra is “ok”, and explained that it is the family that is suffering right now, it is the family that is hurting, it was a heart breaking reminder for all of us parents that we do not wish for our children to hurt. We wish for our children to be “ok”. For parents to know that their child is “ok” offers much during such a painful time and is a significant message for all parents who have experienced the tragedy of death of one’s child.
As Ezra’s father spoke, we all hurt with him and his family. His words brought many to tears. I personally was brought to tears. And I must share with you that says a lot. I am a Psychotherapist/Marriage and Family Therapist. I mention this to share with you that I hear about pain and tragedy every day. Tears do not roll down my face in session, ever, when I am with my clients. I feel their pain, and I feel deeply about each and every client. I have been told by my clients that they feel I genuinely care about them, and I sincerely and passionately do. Yet there I was with tears coming out of my eyes, as the father of a boy at the beginning of young adulthood had his life cut short, shared his thoughts. What an unbearable pain, I felt it, and those around me felt it.
Ezra’s father explained that Ezra had a happy life even though it was short, and a happy short life is better than a long life full of anguish. This is a very touching message, one in which we as a community who are feeling the pain for this family, compassion for this family, is a reminder of the strength of the Schwartz family and an important reminder for us all, of the significance to make positive choices in our life. For life is too short indeed. When Ezra’s father shared stories of the family connecting over watching the Patriots game, and discussing the sports Ezra enjoyed playing, we all identified.
When Ezra’s mother shared how special her son is, we all identified with her love of her child and loss. When she shared her memories of her dear son, we all listened intently to a mother’s devotion. When Ezra’s siblings shared funny stories of the sibling relationship dynamic, we all laughed out loud as the tears were stained on our faces.
If You Think We Are Not At War Then You Are In Denial
Standing outside as the rain came down with people all coming together to support a family in their time of grief, many coming together as a way to stand up for life, to stand together against hatred, in support of the pain this family and their close friends are feeling, to come together and realize that we as people are all vulnerable to hate and thus vulnerable to the actions of another that is out of our control – it is a powerfully moving experience. And, an important message. We must speak up and stand up and confront the reality of what is happening and not live in denial.
It is my opinion that anyone who thinks we can ignore the reality of the depths for which the hatred in the human mind reaches, and therefore what a person of such hate can and will do when they want to kill in the name of religion or country – is going through stage one of the grief cycle, “denial”.
9/11, France, Israel . . . none exist in a vacuum onto their own selves. Let us not be ignorant.
It is so important that all Americans confront and acknowledge emotionally, mentally, intellectually, and logically that there are those among us who cannot be reasoned with. For as an expert in the relationship dynamic between people I assert that the relationship dynamic one has with their god and/or their territory is far more powerful than any potential negotiation. For one to be instilled a value system of hatred towards another, that is blood running through one’s veins that cannot be washed out with fresh blood of “talk”. Is there reasoning with terrorists? I think not. We must fight with passion for our country, our families, ourselves, and our allies. We must come together as a community and as a country. THAT is self-advocacy and self-empowerment.
Ezra Schwartz Is A Symbol Of The Problem With America’s War On Terror
When I speak with people who feel touched by Ezra’s loss of life, when I speak with people who feel touched by the terrorism in France, when I speak with people who feel touched by 9/11, there are many who wonder how safe they really are. We cannot ignore the reality that these events are intertwined. If we decide to be ignorant, if our government is ignorant and spends its time focusing on creating a culture where political correctness rules, and the protection of America and our American people whether in America or elsewhere is ignored, where our Allies are not of importance to us, we are sealing our own fate. And thus destiny here we come.
There was a time in America when many felt safe if they just stayed in America. Unfortunately that is no longer the case. Many do not feel protected even in America. And those who feel safe in America, or safe when in another country, well, one can only wonder how safe we really are. Domestic and/or international terrorism whether at home or away, it does not appear from what we are seeing, if we are living with our eyes wide open rather than our head in the sand, that safe is a reality. What happened to Ezra is a symbol of the problem with America’s war on terror, and the problem is that we have a serious problem.