FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Under the Branches of The Tree of Life

On October 27, 2018, around 9:45 a.m. and on  a peaceful fall Saturday morning,  The Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburg, PA,  was dealt a hard blow  by a senseless act of savagery, an act so brutally heinous it severed 11 branches of varying ages from the trunk of the one-hundred-fifty year-old tree.

Soon thereafter (and for a long while henceforth) the sturdy tree’s canopy of rich foliage morphed into a somber black awning   under which the traumatized congregation and supporters from all faith traditions stood, shaken and bewildered, at the numbing  gash inflicted on this house of worship. They paused  to express their grief, and to mourn, and to reflect, and to bond, and to begin the long process of healing. And across the country and the world peace-loving  women and men of goodwill joined in support.

*****

Thirty years ago La Belle Femme and I had the privilege of travelling to Jordan, The West Bank, Jerusalem, and Israel on a fact-finding trip in company of 13 other peace-loving American activists  of Jewish, Palestinian and other backgrounds.

M.Z., the leader of the group, resided in Pittsburgh, PA.  An accomplished scientist of international repute, M. has for many years been associated with the University of Pittsburgh.

For some reason I was convinced that because of M.’s progressive philosophy and activism, he would  no doubt  be a member of The Tree of Life’s congregation,  a congregation that has had a long history of  supporting social  issues affecting the lives of the weak and disenfranchised.

And even though we had not communicated during the last 29 years, I wanted to be assured that M. and his family were safe.  After a quick online search, the following email was sent to M.

Dear [M.],
I am not sure whether you are the same M. with whom Rachel and  I travelled (under your leadership) to Jordan, West Bank, Jerusalem, and Israel [during the 1988 Intifada].
In spite of the difficult situations we faced, the trip stands out as one of the highlights of our lives. We think about you, Maria, and the others frequently.
All this to say that the tragic news of the dastardly attack on The Tree of Life Synagogue has unnerved us. We are hoping and praying that you and your family are safe.
If this email is going to the wrong [M.], please help us locate a dear friend, one whose moral compass points due north. We know for sure that M. was in the medical [scientific] field.
Thank you in advance.
Sincerely and Salam,
Raouf  and  Rachel Halaby

Within seconds M.’s autoreply informed us that he was attending a conference in San Diego, CA.

Fifteen minutes later I received the following response:

Dear Raouf and Rachel,

You have reached the right [M.] and through me my family. What a comforting note you have sent. Indeed, the trip remains a blessed memory. I only wish that the events that have unfolded since that time 30 years ago could also be described as blessed. But events in Israel/ Palestine and in the US are dark.

The building where today’s tragedy occurred houses our Jewish Congregation and we know of at least two people who were hospitalized, one a dear friend.

My wife and I have actually recently retired and moved to Cape Cod, so we are physically removed from this terrible event, but nonetheless greatly affected.

Your note is greatly appreciated and I hope that now that we have reconnected we can remain so,

In Peace,  [M.]

******

Lest I dishonor the memory of the deceased and impinge on the wounded, I do not wish to use this forum to point a finger at all those responsible (from the highest level on down) for creating a climate of hate, anger and vile behavior.

Instead, I wish to rejoice with my friend M. and his family for their safety, and  my earnest hope and sincere wish is for a speedy recovery  to the wounded hearts  and strong branches, including those who put their lives on the line to protect the public.

I firmly believe that because of its resilience and tenacity, The Tree of Life will endure this deep laceration and emerge a strong and vibrant tree under whose wide canopy future generations will find comfort, hope, peace, harmony, and good will.

Now that M.’s path and mine have re-converged, I look forward to catching up on 29 years of news.

 

More articles by:

Raouf J. Halaby is a Professor Emeritus of English and Art. He is a writer, photographer, sculptor, an avid gardener, and a peace activist. halabys7181@outlook.com

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
August 22, 2019
George Ochenski
Breaking the Web of Life
Kenneth Surin
Boris Johnson’s Brexit Helter Skelter
Enrique C. Ochoa – Gilda L. Ochoa
It’s About Time for Ethnic Studies in Our K-12 Schools
Steve Early
A GI Rebellion: When Soldiers Said No to War
Clark T. Scott
Sanders And Bezos’s Shared, Debilitating, Basic Premise
Dan Corjescu
The Metaphysics of Revolution
Mark Weisbrot
Who is to Blame for Argentina’s Economic Crisis?
Howard Lisnoff
To Protect and Serve
Cesar Chelala
A Palestinian/Israeli Experiment for Peace in the Middle East
Binoy Kampmark
No Deal Chaos: the Brexit Cliff Face and Operation Yellowhammer
Josue De Luna Navarro
For True Climate Justice, Abolish ICE and CBP
Dean Baker
The NYT’s Upside Down Economics on Germany and the Euro Zone
August 21, 2019
Craig Collins
Endangered Species Act: A Failure Worth Fighting For?
Colin Todhunter
Offering Choice But Delivering Tyranny: the Corporate Capture of Agriculture
Michael Welton
That Couldn’t Be True: Restorying and Reconciliation
John Feffer
‘Slowbalization’: Is the Slowing Global Economy a Boon or Bane?
Johnny Hazard
In Protest Against Police Raping Spree, Women Burn Their Station in Mexico City.
Tom Engelhardt
2084: Orwell Revisited in the Age of Trump
Binoy Kampmark
Condescension and Climate Change: Australia and the Failure of the Pacific Islands Forum
Kenn Orphan – Phil Rockstroh
The Dead Letter Office of Capitalist Imperium: a Poverty of Mundus Imaginalis 
George Wuerthner
The Forest Service Puts Ranchers Ahead of Grizzlies (and the Public Interest)
Stephen Martin
Geopolitics of Arse and Elbow, with Apologies to Schopenhauer.
Gary Lindorff
The Smiling Turtle
August 20, 2019
James Bovard
America’s Forgotten Bullshit Bombing of Serbia
Peter Bolton
Biden’s Complicity in Obama’s Toxic Legacy
James Phillips
Calm and Conflict: a Dispatch From Nicaragua
Karl Grossman
Einstein’s Atomic Regrets
Colter Louwerse
Kushner’s Threat to Palestine: An Interview with Norman Finkelstein
Nyla Ali Khan
Jammu and Kashmir: the Legitimacy of Article 370
Dean Baker
The Mythology of the Stock Market
Daniel Warner
Is Hong Kong Important? For Whom?
Frederick B. Mills
Monroeism is the Other Side of Jim Crow, the Side Facing South
Binoy Kampmark
God, Guns and Video Games
John Kendall Hawkins
Toni Morrison: Beloved or Belovéd?
Martin Billheimer
A Clerk’s Guide to the Unspectacular, 1914
Elliot Sperber
On the 10-Year Treasury Bonds 
August 19, 2019
John Davis
The Isle of White: a Tale of the Have-Lots Versus the Have-Nots
John O'Kane
Supreme Nihilism: the El Paso Shooter’s Manifesto
Robert Fisk
If Chinese Tanks Take Hong Kong, Who’ll be Surprised?
Ipek S. Burnett
White Terror: Toni Morrison on the Construct of Racism
Arshad Khan
India’s Mangled Economy
Howard Lisnoff
The Proud Boys Take Over the Streets of Portland, Oregon
Steven Krichbaum
Put an End to the Endless War Inflicted Upon Our National Forests
Cal Winslow
A Brief History of Harlan County, USA
Jim Goodman
Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue is Just Part of a Loathsome Administration
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail