Rabbi Robert Eisen

Rabbi Robert Eisen

As soon as I heard the news it was as if I could hear the screams and the gunfire ringing out in San Diego close up and personal. Another Sabbath … Holiday … Holy Day … desecrated by hate and violence. I am sad. I am hurting for those who were in harm’s way. And, I am tired.

I am as tired of what I see happening in the world as I am sure that, though for different reasons, you are too.

I am tired of the hate and the violence in ALL of their forms. I am tired of being sad. I am tired of hurting. I am tired of being tired. And, strange as it may sound coming from a clergy-person, I am tired of “Thoughts and Prayers.”

What have we become?

In the 1990s I was living in Buffalo, New York. It was a time that I refer to as the period of “The Great Abortion Wars.” People on both sides of the concerns were so sure of what they were saying that they were not even listening to themselves.

And, that hate and violence climaxed in the assassination of a friend of mine, Dr. Bart Slepian. I remember commenting at his funeral that it was too bad that those who murdered him had not spoken with him first. If they had, they would have found that, though he did provide abortions to women in need, he was one of the best friends the anti-abortion cause could have had.

Yes, he felt a moral obligation to perform an abortion when there was a need. However, over the course of our conversations, we often discussed how he was even more committed to ending that need in the first place.

And I am afraid that what I am experiencing is “Déjà vu all over again!”

Don’t like me? Tell me. Don’t shout at me! Don’t shoot at me!

Do I have to be wrong for you to be right? That is sad!

I don’t want “them” to think about me, or to pray for me, either.

However, there is one thing that might work: Talk with me (not at me!). Don’t shout at me! Don’t shoot at me! Let me know what bothers you about me.

I am not sure that I understand you either. And yet, if we can learn to hear what we believe, what we fear, what we want, what we hope and dream and pray about, we may find that we really have a lot more in common than we might think. In fact, we might even find that we are really after the same thing … are really standing on common ground in common cause.

Every bullet that is fired ricochets back on its source, figuratively if not literally. What does that accomplish?

In a few days all of this will be forgotten, until the next cycle begins again. What will any of us have accomplished? Did your hate and violence — our thoughts and prayers — change anything? To do the same thing over and over again and expect a different outcome is insanity.

I do not expect that my proposal will lead to either of us changing our opinions, but just maybe we will find out that we have more in common than anyone thinks. Just maybe a conversation or two will enable us to change the world so none of us will be tired anymore.

Please let me know what you think.

Rabbi Robert Eisen is with Congregation Anshei Israel. Contact him at rabbi@caiaz.org