Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A Most Eloquent Eulogy, A Most Powerful Reminder

Image by Molly Rice

When I read the entire text of a eulogy given at a slain child's funeral this morning, I naturally wanted to share it, knowing that others would find it touching as well. However, the media source or website from which we share can often taint how the words and messages are received. Knowing this, I've chosen to share the text from the eulogy here, from a more neutral space, hoping that readers will take the message being imparted -- at the request of the family -- to heart. It is a message of our interconnectedness and Interbeing. I have no doubt there are families on the other side of this ongoing tragedy and struggle who echo the same sentiments regarding their children and their culture.  (Note the edit at the end of this post.)

Not being a religious person myself (though I am a person of faith), I admit that I tend to cringe when specific identifying religious terms are used in a message. I fear they create a sense of "othering"...creating a divide between those of that specific path and all "others." I'm working through that by trying to shift my perspective: Rather than reflexively viewing any chosen path as a means of division, I choose to appreciate the innate goodness and wisdom I believe are contained at the core of each path. I have always believed that the common fundamental teaching of all paths is that we are all connected, what we do to one we do to all.

If you follow a specific religious path and are unfamiliar with others and thus resist them, or if you are like me and cringe when religion is involved in a story, I ask you to please join me in trying to have an open mind as you read and release any resistance. Please allow yourself to hear to the powerful message contained within this solemn offering.  Note that emphasis placed on the text below is mine.  ~ Dena

We Need One Another

Today we are burying a child. To bury a child is unnatural; parents are not supposed to march in a funeral procession for their children; grandparents are not supposed to shed tears over their grandchild’s grave. It’s supposed to be the opposite. When we bury our deceased elderly, we cry over the lives they had lived – over the many memories they’ve left behind. When we bury a child, we cry over the lives they haven’t lived. Today we are burying a wedding; we’re burying the first breath of a new born child. Today we are burying an entire Shabbat table that will never come into being. And so let’s remember every second that we are burying today a child.

Today we are burying a child who could have been any one of ours and therefore he is one of ours – all of us. We aren’t burying a “settler”; we aren’t burying a soldier who fell in the never ending struggle for this land of ours. This is not the funeral of a particular population sub-group or “sector”; it isn’t one particular group that is grieving this loss. We need one another on this day. We need one another. We don’t need anger; we don’t need yet another division among us; we don’t need a competition over whose rage is holier or whose hate is purer. Rage is not holy. Hate can never be pure. I can certainly understand all those demanding revenge; how could I not understand when I share those same sentiments – when each and every one of us feels this way.

But today, at this funeral, in the presence of this family, we need love. We need to speak in one language. We need to rediscover the paths that connect all of us. If in fact we seek to punish our enemies, there is no greater punishment than for them to behold this sight and to see that nothing can divide us. If we want to take revenge on these murderers, and we find them and punish them, the true revenge will be the ability to transcend the differences among us and to embrace one another, despite all of our shortcomings and the disagreements among us. If indeed we want to sanctify Gil-ad’s memory, we need to choose what to sanctify: the hostility towards the other or the love for each other – that which divides us, or that which binds us; the suspicion or the trust among ourselves.

Children don’t write wills, so we must therefore write Gil-ad’s will. If the family and those assembled here permit me, I would submit that we begin the writing of this will with the words of the Holy Ari:

I hereby take upon myself the commandment of loving thy neighbor as thyself and I hereby love each and every child of Israel as my own soul and my own being.

May Gil-ad’s memory be a blessing.




Excerpt:  "The visit was organized by Tag Meir, a coalition of forty organizations including the Interreligious Coordinating Council of Israel (ICCI). Buses were available to transport people who wanted to express their condolences.

Rabbi Ron Kronish, the director of the ICCI and steering committee member of Tag Meir, told The Huffington Post, "We went to pay a condolence visit to this Palestinian family whose son was brutally murdered as an act of religious obligation and humanistic solidarity. Our visit was warmly received by our Palestinian neighbors who were visibly moved by our empathetic act of good will."

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