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  • Writer's pictureIOWA Project

No Words... And a Piercing Cry

Roberta A. Drury, 32, of Buffalo, NY

Margus D. Morrison, 52, of Buffalo, NY

Andre Mackneil, 53, of Auburn, NY

Aaron Salter, 55, of Lockport, NY

Geraldine Talley, 62, of Buffalo, NY

Celestine Chaney, 65, of Buffalo, NY

Heyward Patterson, 67, of Buffalo, NY

Katherine Massey, 72, of Buffalo, NY

Pearl Young, 77, of Buffalo, NY

Ruth Whitfield, 86, of Buffalo, NY

John Cheng, 52, of Laguna Niguel, CA

Eva Mireles, 44, of Uvalde, TX

Xavier Lopez, 10, of Uvalde, TX

Jose Flores, 10, of Uvalde, TX

Irma Garcia, 48, of Uvalde, TX

Nevaeh Bravo, 10, of Uvalde, TX

Ellie Garcia, 9, of Uvalde, TX

Tess Mata, 10, of Uvalde, TX

Alexandria “Lexi” Rubio, 10, of Uvalde, TX

Jacklyn Cazares, 9, of Uvalde, TX

Jailah Nicole Silguero, 10, of Uvalde, TX

Jayce Luevanos, 10, of Uvalde, TX

Miranda Mathis, 11, of Uvalde, TX

Amerie Jo Garza, 10, of Uvalde, TX

Makenna Lee Elrod, 10, of Uvalde, TX

Layla Salazar, 10, of Uvalde, TX

Maite Rodriguez, 10, of Uvalde, TX

Annabell Rodriguez, 10, of Uvalde, TX

Eliahana Cruz Torres, 10, of Uvalde, TX

Rojelio Torres, 10, of Uvalde, TX

Alithia Ramirez, 10, of Uvalde, TX

Uziyah Garcia, 10, of Uvalde, TX

There are no words

Just a cry

A sigh

A scream that tears the heavens

That bursts all that tries to contain it

With the “how” and “why” evoked by young face after smiling young face

A cry that yearns to break apart the political reality that over and over again enables a small minority to thwart the will of the vast majority that wants, once and for all, to rid ourselves of the abundance of these killing machines.

What response of the spirit can meet this moment other than silence? A silence of being struck speechless. Silence may be most true, yet there is more I think we humans need when confronted with destruction.

One response is the scream, the cry, the shout. Like the shofar on Rosh Hashanah, the cry has different modes. There is the long, angry cry to the heavens of the T’kiah, and the broken wail of the Shevarim, and the staccato whimper of the T’ruah. Let yourself cry any and all of these, multiple times as you need. Cry to God, cry with a friend, cry on your own. May your tears keep your heart open and may they provide the medium to rearrange the warped priorities that fuel this destruction. An ancient teaching says, while gates of prayer may be locked, the gate of tears remains open. May this gate of tears swing wide open and give us the supernatural ability needed to finally protect our children at their desks in school and bring deep safety and security to every person of color.

Another response is Chesed. Acts of caring and kindness that flow from an open heart. Olam Chesed Yibanah - the world is built through Chesed. When the lifeforce is taken from a body, that holy vessel becomes a Chalal, an entity vacated of holiness. That void of holiness, of the Divine Image that was, just moments before, present, can never be restored. We live with that void. And, yet, we rebuild.

That is the purpose of Chesed, to build strong enough human connections that can hold the loss and pain of an unredeemed world, and give the nourishment needed to build again.

This is the story of Ruth, and her mother-in-law, Naomi, that is read on Shavuot (6-7 Sivan, May 5-6). Out of the ruins of a world shattered by famine and death, the widowed Ruth pledges solidary of faith and peoplehood with her widowed mother-in-law together forever. With no guarantees of prosperity, Ruth leaves her homeland to stay and care for the elderly Naomi as a true companion. The story attributes the birth of the ultimate redemption to this quiet act of Chesed.

Practice good chesed. Smart chesed. Listen well and try to understand what is truly needed and then give. Give generously, give a little, give what you can. There is no upper or lower limit to an act of Chesed. May our acts of Chesed be a thread in the reweaving of our social fabric, torn over and over with each act of violence.

Shavuot kicks off a period of Jewish mythic time where this reweaving torn fabric is central. After the high point of receiving Torah on Mt. Sinai, 40 days later, on 17 Tammuz, the Israelites dance around the golden calf. This is followed by an extended period of reflection and repair with 40 days of teshuva starting on Rosh Chodesh Elul and culminating with atonement on Yom Kippur. In the midst of all this, on a slightly different cycle, is Tisha B’Av, the day the two Temples in Jerusalem were destroyed. In these times of destruction and repair we can turn to the deep wells of our ancient spiritual lineages to build a just, sustainable, peaceful world. I invite you and your co-conspirtators to a workshop on integrating Jewish spiritual wisdom into our campaigns for justice on June 29. Come with an organizing team to join with a teacher of Jewish wisdom to craft an integrated campaign for the Tisha B’Av and Elul. See more below.

We can never bring back those murdered in Bufallo and Ulvade (and many other places) recently. Yet, we can break through numbness and insensitivity and weave a new social fabric. After the necessity of stunned silence, indeed, this is what we must do.

With blessings for redemption,



Please Join us on Wednesday, July 29th at 6:30pm ET for Centering Torah in Justice: Spiritual Practice and Direct Action Integration Leading up to Tisha B'Av. Together, we’ll integrate the spiritual as a wholly central component in the physical fight for social justice. Spiritual integration is a critical component that connects us to Jewish values and HaShem, the source of power greater than ourselves and our own devices, in order to lead in our justice work from a place that is more visionary, creative, sustainable, and grounded.


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