This morning, I went to my local synagogue to help clean up the grounds. We weeded, raked, etc. to beautify the outside of the building now that it is spring.
I enjoy yard work and generally being outside. As a former biologist, I love getting my hands dirty, and it’s mindful to just focus on the weed in front of you. Plus, we were lucky that it was a beautiful morning. I found it peaceful to be working in the garden as Sunday School education went on just inside.
What made it difficult to be mindful was when in the midst of working a police car drove up, and the officer introduced himself. I overheard him explain that he was the officer assigned to the synagogue for the day. I assume this was because of the shooting yesterday at a synagogue in San Diego, and my town is being extra cautious.
After this, it was hard to think of much else. It made what had been very real news stories, but in a way just stories, feel more real. The officer continued sitting parked outside the synagogue, and the reality of what has been happening continued weighing on my mind.
In the last six months, there have been tragedies at places of worship in Pittsburg, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, and yesterday, San Diego. This crisis is certainly not limited to Jewish synagogues, though anti-Semitism is still a problem around the world.
Places of worship are supposed to be some of the safest places of them all. Gun violence, especially in the US, is absolutely a crisis.
Seeing the police officer sit outside the synagogue was chilling, but it was not surprising. I grew up seeing officers at my synagogue, especially on important Jewish holidays.
Still, yesterday and today were a chilling reminder that we need more than thoughts and prayers. We need to vote. We need common sense gun reform.