My parents were both born in 1933 in South Bend, Indiana. They were the children of Jewish refugees who had fled Eastern Europe in the first decade of the last century, before the Russian Revolution. Both were raised as conservative Jews. After they finished college in their home state, they moved to Chicago, Illinois where they reared their four sons as conservative, progressive Jews. Although not observant at home, they regularly attended a typical midwest conservative synagogue, not unlike the typical midwest shul in Pittsburgh where a mass shooting occurred on Saturday.
A work trip took me to Pittsburgh a month ago. On a beautiful Saturday morning, the city’s “strip” — its main drag just off of downtown — was bustling with Steelers fans and food lovers. People were friendly there, the nightlife was welcoming and fun, and the city’s now abandoned factories were oddly and boldly beautiful set against the natural majesty of its rivers and hills. Folks were lined up around the block at the Heinz History Center, a Smithsonian outpost, for a new space exploration exhibit. Time didn’t permit a visit to the Anyd Warhol museum.
It’s hard to believe that the City of Bridges, as it’s known, would also be home to such virulent racism. But it is. And sadly, it’s no different than anywhere else in America.
When I see the photos of those who died in Saturday’s attack, I see faces that I recognize from my own upbringing. I see faces that I recognize from our neighborhood bagel shop and the Jewish Community Center a few blocks from our house (where our daughters often attend birthday parties). I see the congregants of the orthodox shul next to my gym. I see my aunts, my uncles, my cousins, my grandparents… I see myself and I see our children.
Even in my wildest imagination, I never thought that a day like this would arrive in America. But it has.
Today I weep for my fallen sisters and brothers, their families, their community. Today I weep for my country.
..i’m so tired of weeping for this(our) country.. just as you see your family in those faces..I too see my family in the face of the grandfather and grandmother killed while simply doing an everyday task of going to the market. It’s such a disgusting and disturbing chain of events going on… I listened to the song by War .. “why can’t we be friends” .. what’s so hard about that.. peace to you and your family
Jamala, I’m so sorry to hear the story about your grandparents. That’s awful. I think we all thought that stories like this were going to be relegated to the past, the time of our grandparents. But now it seems that a nightmare is taking over our country. Thanks for being here and sharing the story. And thanks for the music recommendation. I’m putting that in my playlist for today!
Hate and mental illness can live anywhere, and I was shocked to find it here in Pittsburgh, after last Saturday. Evil is everywhere, and we must all combat it collectively.