Normally, when Jews die, we recite a prayer: ‚baruch dayan ha’emet‘ – blessed is the True Judge. It’s a way of saying: “the good and the bad they did, can pass with them — their soul is in God’s hands now“. When Jews are slaughtered by anti-Semites, however, there is a different prayer: ‚hashem yikkom damam‘ – may God avenge their blood.
It may sound awful to call for revenge in the wake of an attack. It may sound like a summons to continue the cycle of violence. Please be assured, that is not the type of vengeance we are speaking about.
The best form of revenge, in the face of people who want to destroy you, is to carry on living, more than ever. Nothing pains anti-Semites and haters more than to see the people they want to extinguish go on and thrive.
Last Shabbat we celebrated our Judaism proudly. We came together for our Challah Bake, we had joyful services, some of us went to the Johannesburg Pride, and on Monday we welcomed a new Baby Boy into our covenant with God. And this is exactly how we will carry on, being more Jewish. More visible. Louder. More different. More inclusive.
Last Shabbat was also painful, hurtful, and shocking. Not only have we, the Jewish people, lost members of our community, but humanity has lost—as in so many other terror attacks before—wonderful souls, human beings created in the Divine image.
In their honour, we will be more faithful, more humble, closer to God. Because they lived, we will too. We will outlive the anti-Semites, the haters, the racists. With our lives, we will avenge their blood.
– Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Adrian M Schell