Dear Rabbi Fried,
My family and I are devastated that there could have been an attack like there just was right in our backyard in Texas, to a small group of Jews minding their own business and praying on the Sabbath. How should we be viewing this event?
First, allow me to share with you an email I sent to Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker of the Colleyville Congregation Beth Israel:
I just want to let you know how overjoyed we are in the Dallas orthodox community how the outcome of this ordeal played out.
Our shul held a prayer service for you on Motzai Shabbos as did the other shuls and the Dallas Jewish Federation, and I delivered a public shiur at that time in your merit as well.
I’m sure all of those prayers here and worldwide bore fruit, and it’s wonderful that you’re all here to talk about it, as traumatic as I’m sure it was!
It’s certainly been a wake-up call to complacency; we all have some thinking and safety precautions to upgrade and get in place!
With wishes for continued safety and to always share good news with each other,
Yerachmiel & Marcy Fried
During the terrifying event, the proper response for the community was prayer. We read on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, during the U’nesana Tokef service, that three things — tefillah (prayer), teshuvah (repentance) and tzedakah (charity) — ward off the evil decree. The Dallas Jewish community, the local synagogues and the Jewish Federation, banded together to jointly pray for the release of our brethren.
After the event, with the unprecedentedly good news under such circumstances, the first appropriate response is thanksgiving to G-d. We need to thank Him for the deliverance of our brethren from the hands of a murderous, crazy Muslim antisemite, a situation the likes of which usually has a far different outcome…
Lastly, what has transpired needs to serve as a wake-up call to us all that things are no longer so “good for the Jews” in this country. Colleyville is now added to the sinister, recent list of Pittsburgh, Poway, Jersey City and Monsey. The calls to create task forces against antisemitism and additional protection for synagogues and visible representations of Judaism in any form don’t bode well for us and are greatly limited in their ability to make a meaningful difference, although, of course, we need to do all we can.
At this time that we express our thanks to G-d that things didn’t turn out far worse, we need to pray that such situations don’t arise in the future. And, given our history, we need to keep our fingers firmly on the pulse of our situation to know when the time may come when Israel is the next step for American Jewry…
Rabbi Yerachmiel Fried is dean of Dallas Area Torah Association.