These past few weeks were difficult for people in the Jewish community. As the event in Pittsburgh unfolded, I could feel my heart move into my throat and the visceral, historical fear of persecution rise in my body.
No matter where you are stuck or overwhelmed, how does standing with others and having others stand with you support your optimal health?
Some friends reached out on social media or though emails or texts:
"Thinking of you during this difficult time."
"Sending thoughts to you and your community."
While I deeply appreciate the sentiments, something about those responses left me feeling itchy. Words, especially from a place of privilege, are easy to come by.
Then, this happened....
As I entered my synagogue on Saturday morning (and had just waved at the kind police officer who volunteered his time to help us feel safe), a woman approached me. She said, "Would you help me know where to find services? I have never been here before."
Then she continued, "I am friends of some of the congregants here. I am not Jewish and last year, your congregation stood with me during my cancer diagnosis. It meant everything to me. Now, I am standing with you during this difficult time."
And I could feel the shift in my body as she spoke. I felt cared for, understood, believed. Not itchy.
She was standing with us... not thinking about us from a safe distance.
It reminded me how healthy it feels to have people stand next to me. It also reminded me of how healthy it feels when I jump into the circle, rather than observe from the outside, and stand next to others.
Make standing next to others, rather than just thinking about them, a healthy habit.