A poem/prayer for Charleston

This morning, I wrote a poem/prayer about yesterday’s murders in Charleston because otherwise, I do not know how I can go back to teaching/reading. So much is being written in these minutes, I just hope some lines will galvanize us as a society into action.

Holy One,

We stand before you, speechless in the face of yet another murder perpetrated in your holy space. Nine people, shot after an hour of shared prayer. Unfathomable.

The city of Charleston is no stranger to racist violence, not now, not in the past. We might live far away from South Carolina, yet Charleston and this crime, an act of terrorism directed against our own black brothers and sisters are now a part of us:
Every time we do not speak out when we see terrible things happening in front of our eyes.
Every time we see poverty and do not reach out—I am thinking of the breadlines stretching around the blocks.
Every time we see someone who cannot afford the medical treatment they need. And we all know someone in such a situation.
Every time we see racism and do not intervene, because it is scary, or inconvenient.
Every time we refuse to talk about race and the advantages we enjoy just for looking white in our communities.

How much longer will we accept this? When will we rise and truly work towards a society free of guns, poverty, and systemic inequality? Not in some world to come but RIGHT NOW.

May the hearts of all at Mother Emanuel and in the city of Charleston find solace. May we act so that this becomes the very last instance of racially motivated murder we will ever have to face.

We ask for your blessings for the victims, and their families.

“וְנָתַתָּ שָׁלוֹם בָּאָרֶץ וְשִׂמְחַת עוֹלָם לְיוֹשְׁבֶיהָ”
Establish peace in the land, and everlasting joy for its inhabitants.

Mother Emmanuel


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