By Yoni Binus, Head of School
As I was hurriedly passing in the hallway from one meeting to another and one thought to another, going through my post-Passover ‘to do’ list, the great folks on our communications team caught my eye through the conference room window and summoned me into the room. Pointing to an agenda mapped out on the whiteboard, one of them said to me, “Good timing, we’re just getting started, and we’re wondering what you want to do about that.” The first item scrawled atop eight others was “San Diego.”
My heart sank.
Dam. Tzfardeia. Pittsburgh. Buchenwald. Charlottesville. Kinim. Christchurch. Auschwitz. Arov. San Diego.
Like many others, I enjoyed my Passover break but was also glad to just be back in the normal routine of things. In my heart of hearts, I knew that San Diego was not just going to go away, but I also did not know if I had the strength to once again speak out from my seat as the leader of a Jewish day school.
I had acknowledged the shooting with the staff at the beginning of our professional development day on Monday, but even that felt like something I was merely eking out from a spiritual gas tank that seemed mostly full of air. Perfunctory, at best. My words were about hope that we will not become complacent, yet I could hardly convince myself that that wasn’t happening to me, even as the words came out of my mouth. And, now, four hours into our first day back, I was reminded of that truth as I was asked this question about agenda item number one, San Diego.
But this is what community is for, and I am just as much in need of those supports and reminders as anyone else. I do not begrudge myself a moment of doubt and complacency and exhaustion. That doesn’t mean there is no fight left, and that doesn’t mean the fight is over.
As Rabbi Goldstein, of Poway, himself declared after the tragedy, there is no better time to double down on our Jewish identity and our convictions as people who strive to make the world a better place. From tragedy must come renewal. Convictions alone will not get us where we need to go, but they are are great place to start.
I am guessing that we have a long way to go, yet, in this most recent public battle with hate and anti-semitism and bigotry and misogyny. I imagine there will be more incidents about which we will need to react, discuss, reflect, and respond. My take away from San Diego, my own personal takeaway, is how much we need those around us to keep us propped up and strong. We should surround ourselves with great and good people who will help us refuel our spiritual gas tanks when they are empty, and we should do the same for those around us when they are running on fumes.
Thank you to my team. Thank you to our community partners who continually help us consider and tighten security, even when there is no sign of deeper threat, but to ensure our physical and emotional safety in times like these. Thank you to our families and staff and volunteers for doubling down on their investment in Jewish identity, knowledge, and presence in this world.
Our hearts are with the people of Chabad of Poway. And with each other.
- Yoni 360