There are no words that can begin to come close to describing the sense of utter devastation that we are all feeling at this moment. Just this past weekend, we were together to observe Yom Kippur, our Day of Atonement, a day where we attempt to make amends for our wrongdoings of the past year and start fresh, with a clean slate. We heard the haunting words of Unetaneh Tokef, the prayer where we cry out to the heavens and ask, “Who will live, and who will die?” Never did we expect these words to feel so literal and so real within a mere day.

As clergy, we are honored to be leaders of this holy community. We hope to serve as guides as we all work together to find meaning in our world. But in moments such as these, our job becomes difficult – we cannot make meaning of this senseless and tragic loss of life.  We can only embrace one another and remember that each life is sacred and precious, not to be taken for granted.

Our tradition teaches that every life is an entire world. Each one of the 59 victims whose lives were cut too short was someone’s whole world; each was a child, a parent, a sibling, a friend. As we mourn together as a community, we mourn for each of these souls and we mourn for our entire world in its brokenness. As we begin this new year of 5778 together, we pray that this is the last time that we will have to write these words and grieve countless lives tragically lost.

We will leave you with the words of Zelda, whose poem, Each Person Has a Name, helps us to find the words when none seem adequate.

EACH PERSON has a name.

We each have a name given by God and given by our father and mother.
We each have a name given by our stature and smile and given by our attire.
We each have a name given by the hills and given by the walls.
We each have a name given by the stars and given by our friends.
We each have a name given by our sins and given by our yearnings.
We each have a name given by our enemies and given by love.
We each have a name given by celebrations and given by our work.
We each have a name given by the seasons and given by our blindness.
We each have a name given by the sea and given by our death.


Rabbi Brian Stoller                      Rabbi Deana Sussman Berezin                   Cantor Wendy Shermet