Like much of America, we were shocked and saddened by the shooting that took place Saturday morning in Arizona. As of late this evening, reports are that the congresswoman remains in critical condition.
Much will be written and discussed in the coming days, weeks and months about the details of the event – who, what, where, when, speculation as to why. For today, much of our responses were emotional, particularly as facts emerged:
The judge who was killed had come from celebrating Mass. The 9 year old girl who was killed was born on September 11, 2001. Rep. Giffords’ Jewish background – she has a Jewish father and is affiliated with a Reform congregation.
We applaud Sheriff Dupnik of Pima, Arizona. Sheriff Dupnik spoke from the heart at Saturday’s press conference about the effects of “vitriolic rhetoric” and the need for soul-searching as a country. In just the hours since the shooting, so many controversies have already been connected with this event: access to guns, mental illness, impact of the media, drugs, politics, religion, immigration and more.
What stands out for us are the appalling reports of target practice at campaign events (using a photo of Rep. Giffords as the target), maps with crosshairs and congressional names attached, calls to “reload.” There’s no place in America for thugs. Though the sheriff is already being criticized for “politicizing” this event, we fail to see how the point-blank shooting of an elected member of Congress is anything but political. How do we heal the spiritual wounds from deteriorating political discourse? How does our nation heal when guns are pointed at our leaders? How can there be healing when political darlings offer condolences but leave the crosshairs map available for “fans” to see?
In other sad news, noted Jewish singer and songwriter Debbie Friedman also remains in critical condition. On Sunday evening (January 9) a Healing Service is scheduled for 8 pm at the JCC in Manhattan (6 pm Mountain time). Oh – yes, we know that’s a bit far. This event will be “livestreamed” on Ustream, a website that will have live video of the event on Sunday. Click here to watch the event while it’s happening. More information about the worldwide prayer effort is in this article from Forward. Sing along – pray along – may our prayers for healing be heard. UPDATE: We learned this morning of Debbie Friedman’s passing early today. May her memory be for a blessing z”’l.
Here are the lyrics to Mi Shebeirach (lyrics by Debbie Friedman and Drorah Setel)*
Mi shebeirach avoteinu
M’kor habracha l’imoteinu
May the source of strength who blessed the ones before us,
Help us find the courage to make our lives a blessing
And let us say: Amen.
Mi shebeirach imoteinu
M’kor habracha l’avoteinu
Bless those in need of healing with refuah sh’leimah
The renewal of body, the renewal of spirit
And let us say: Amen.
May both women – and our nation – have a complete healing in the days to come.