The shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue last weekend sent shockwaves across the country and in West Virginia. Victor Urecki, the rabbi at B’Nai Jacob Synagogue in Charleston, shared his thoughts on moving ahead in the wake of the tragedy.
"Particularly for the Jewish people, this has been a very difficult week. We feel broken. We feel no longer safe," he said. "Maybe we were lulled into a sense of American security that America is finally gonna be the different place. I think for America, it doesn't feel like this is us. This is not who we are, as Americans."
"I'm not sure how we get out of this, except I've been thinking a lot about what maybe has brought us to this place. Evil and goodness are part of our human experience. There are evil acts, there are good acts. There are evil people, there are good people. And a lot of times we have both within us. What has maybe generated this feeling that this is changing is evil words and thoughts have been weaponized. Evil acts that have pretty much been kept in the dark corners of America are now much more open because, again, words have been weaponized."
"What gives me hope is I think what we can do is learn to weaponize goodness. And what I've noticed throughout the pain and the suffering that the Jewish communities have gone through in America is the outpouring of love, incredible acts, not just of people picking up the phone or emailing or private messaging, but simple acts of kindness that we're experiencing here in West Virginia."
Urecki described one act of kindness last Sunday, during a memorial service at the synagogue. A family left a bouquet of yellow flowers on the front steps. During the evening, more flowers appeared outside the synagogue.
He also spoke about an anonymous message someone wrote in chalk outside the synagogue in Huntington that read, "You are loved."
That, he said is "the simple act of goodness that needs to be weaponized.”