In the aftermath of the ordeal and as antisemitic attacks are on the rise in the U.S., many security experts say protecting synagogue buildings and other Jewish institutions may mean reinterpreting the commandment — what Jews call the “mitzvah” — to welcome the stranger.
In the days following the vandalism there was considerable teeth gnashing in Spokane, the usual “this is not us,” or “hopes and prayers,” and so on. But I doubt there is a Jew in our community who was surprised by the vandalism – or found much comfort in the expressions of sympathy and concern.
Our son was called to the Torah for his bar mitzvah ceremony just weeks after the shooting at the synagogue in Pittsburg. In the wake of that horror, we had to step back and decide what we did and didn’t want to do for his ceremony. We opted to continue as planned, although with a guard at the door. That event weighed heavily on my mind as I wrote this speech for his ceremony.