Rabbi Joshua Hammerman, like the rest of us who are not members of the Tree of Life Synagogue, is not in a position to preach forgiveness to those who are (“Should Jews ‘Turn The Other Cheek’?” Opinion, Nov. 23).
He has not been personally touched by the atrocity committed in Pittsburgh. Though as Jews we are all impacted, it is not for those of us on the outside to determine who forgives and who does not.
It is disappointing to see how a discussion about something so deeply personal and sacred as forgiveness veers off into an inevitable political diatribe, as it seems to in Rabbi Hammerman’s column. He refers to Republicans as “harsh nativists,” stating that the midterm election shows that “love was reflected in the ballot box,” implying that those whose side did not prevail must be less compassionate. He refers to the 11 people who were murdered as “Jewish martyrs who changed America.” No Rabbi, they are not martyrs. They were simply Jews who like many of us were attending Shabbat services in their synagogue. What has changed America is identity politics and finger-pointing that does little but sow discord and distrust.
Forgiveness is a powerful thing, but only when it is truly felt and freely given. Poetic phrases such as “hate was drowned in a sea of love” must ring hollow to the ears of those whose lives were truly changed by the action of one lunatic on one Shabbat morning in Pittsburgh.