The red Camry entered our parking lot the wrong way though the out driveway. He saw me, standing outside of the synagogue, and he did not slow down. I held my ground. He spun around, quickly exited, and gunned his engine as he went up the nearby freeway ramp. As I watched him I realized again that our first line of defense was me, an out-of-shape 64 year old. And no, I was not wearing Kevlar underwear.
The first line of defense has always been the individual Jew. We have not survived for thousands of years because of the strength of armies or the grace of governments. We have not survived because of the quality of our armaments. It is the individual Jew, one by one, who has chosen to be a part of the community, to teach his/her children, to have accepted the responsibility of being a Jew and all that that means to each of us.
Yes, there were armed policemen behind me. Yes, we have practiced active shooter drills and taken Stop the Bleed training. Yes, we have taken steps to be prepared. It is our responsibility to be as prepared as possible for the unthinkable. But in the end, it is still the individual Jew who serves as our first line of defense.
During the High Holy Days we reaffirm our participation in the community. We are charged with the obligation to hear the sounding of the Shofar. Some will spend long hours in synagogue. Some will reflect privately in their homes, the Shofar courtesy of the internet or Alexa. That effort is the first line of defense no less important than an old guy standing guard outside of the synagogue in the parking lot.
I wish for all of you a Happy and Healthy New Year, a year of peace.
Picture – Honey Cake – David L Cunix