It was the Sunday afternoon before Passover. I was on my way to the airport to pick up family flying in for the holiday from points west. Just before I left home, the phone rang. A cousin from Overland Park, KS was calling. His parents were en route to Baltimore.
“When you greet them at the airport reassure them that we’re all fine,” he said. “When they hear the news about the terrible shooting at the JCC they’ll be very concerned. Tell them our daughter is safe at home. She left the JCC 10 minutes before the shooting occurred.”
I delivered his message and for the next many hours listened to dozens of phone conversations between caring and concerned family and friends checking in to be sure the Kansas City branch of our family were well.
The Jewish community in Overland Park and other neighborhoods of the Kansas City area is close knit. Understandably shaken that they were the targets of hatred, we join with them in anger and sadness aware that irrational hatred is aimless.
Our hearts ache for the victims, for their families, and for our society. We know we have to be better than this. On the day before Passover’s celebration of freedom, human dignity, and redemption, we were reminded again how much we must still overcome.
The tragic irony in all of this is that the three who died in this anti-Semitic attack were not Jews. Like all of us do, they were two adults and one teenager going about their lives unaware that one mad man’s hatred for others would end their lives so cruelly.
We are all at risk when hate rears its ugly head. We are all vulnerable to evil, and therefore, all of us, people from all walks of life, together, we are responsible for teaching, modeling, expecting, and living goodness.
Passover ends with a glorious vision. The Prophet Isaiah hopes for a day when “nothing evil or vile shall be done,” a day of deliverance for the Jewish people, a day of goodness for all people. To honor those who lost their lives so needlessly, speedily in our days may this vision guide us.