Daring to Grieve: A Response to Death in the Tree of Life

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I spent the first 39 years of my life as a cultural and ethnic Jew, but not a religious one. I knew the people well, but not the religion.

When I uprooted from California and moved to Florida almost two years ago, that changed. I sought a sense of home, identity, belonging, and thus entered a temple for the first time. Temple, though I visit only occasionally, has since become a deeply sacred space of ancestral connection.

When the news hit last Saturday afternoon, I knew I needed to sit and to grieve with my people. To find solace in the company of shared stories, shared knowing, shared grief. To mourn not just the Tree of Life massacre, but the centuries of threat, fear, assault, massacre, the felt vulnerability of Jewish existence. When I learned the rabbi would be holding a special service on Sunday, I determined to go.

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