Marnie Fienberg on March 15, 2019
The universe cracks. That’s how you feel when your beloved and peaceful family member is violently torn from this world while they are at prayer. That’s how more that 40 families feel right now half a world away. I know because only 6 months ago I was in their shoes. It’s like I am in a cruel time machine and it’s stuck on a repeating loop taking me back to October 27, 2018, when my mother-in-law Joyce Fienberg was murdered at the Tree of Life. Today I feel like I am back there again.
Half-a world away, yet the same story of hate and violence against people peacefully praying to their Creator. I wish I was there to comfort the families and help support them in this pain and agony. I can’t stop crying for the families, but especially for their children. Children who are old enough to understand that there is loss, but don’t understand the meaningless and utterly insane hatred that spawned it. The look of having to tell children that their Grandmother is dead from hatred rips out your heart each and every day.
No one – no matter their religion, age, color, anything – should be harmed in any way while peacefully praying to their Creator.
To the Families that are reeling – I want to say that as Children of Abraham, we in the Jewish Community are your siblings. We mourn your loss deeply. Please know that we love you and wish this had never happened. We pray for peace. For me personally, I will pray today that your families are sitting beside Allah in Paradise.
In October and November, the biggest gift that the Pittsburgh community gave to my family was space and deep love. We had space to mourn – the reporters and politics were kept away from us in a bubble made of love and unbreakable Pittsburgh Steel. We continued to feel this love through boxes and boxes of letters, stories, poems, even quilts were sent to us from strangers around the world, including our friends in the Muslim Community. This love is what helps me get out of bed every day.
Regardless of the distance, these families need your love, respect, and space. They need to know that 99% of the people in this world are amazing, loving people. They need to know that their families are not defined by the way they died, but by the way they lived.
Today I don’t have an answer, any more than I did 6 months ago. Today all I have are tears. Tomorrow – maybe we can all work together to find a solution and protect all of us when we are at our most vulnerable.
Marnie Fienberg is founder of 2forSeder – Pushing Back On Anti-Semitism with Love and Matzah, a national campaign that grew out of the Tree of Life Tragedy in Pittsburgh to honor the memory of her mother-in-law, Joyce Fienberg, a victim of the tragedy.