By Kim Baker
Eagle Guest Writer
Rabbi Marc Fitzerman of Congregation B’nai Emunah called and Tulsans on Tuesday, Oct.30, packed a standing room only synagogue to commemorate the lives of 11 Jewish senior citizens shot to death during Sabbath services at the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburg, Pa. Amidst America’s amplified hatred, racism and reckless leadership, some of Tulsa’s spiritual and civic leaders wrestled with remarks to offer, yet delivered powerful messages of love, awakening and resilience. Speakers were Rev. James D. Miller, Ph.D., First Presbyterian Church of Tulsa; Rev. Marlin Lavanhar, Senior Minister, All Souls Unitarian Church; Bishop David Konderla, The Roman Catholic Diocese of Tulsa; Rev. Alexis Carter, Discipleship Pastor, Metropolitan Baptist Church; and the Honorable G.T. Bynum, Mayor of Tulsa, Okla.. Rabbi Daniel Shalom Kaiman offered prayer. Excerpts provided below:
Eleven Candle Memorial Ceremony – Jared Simon/Maia Anderson Shafar Blowing – Rachel Gold
- Joyce Fienberg, 75, wonderful woman, friendly front door greeter/kitchen helper – Candle lit by Rabbi Michael Weinstein, Senior Rabbi, Temple Israel;
- Richard Gottfreid, 65, dentist, embodied love, provided free care to those in need – Candle lit by Dr. Deborah Gist, Superintendent of Tulsa Public Schools;
- Rose Mallinger, 97, wonderful spirit, did not use cane or walker, one of the “vivacious, younger” ones – Candle lit by Moises Echeverria, Pres./CEO, OK Center for Community and Justice;
- Jerry Rabinowitz, 66, doctor, one of the best, laughter lightened room, died running towards gunshots to help others – Candle lit by Rev. Barbara Prose, Exec. Minister, All Souls Unitarian Church;
- Cecil Rosenthal, 59, inseparable brother to David, loyal, kind, strong faith with special needs – Candle lit by Toby Jenkins, Executive Director, Oklahoma Equality Center;
- David Rosenthal, 54, inseparable brother to Cecil, faithful, infectious laugh, caring man with special needs – Candle lit by Alyson King, Oklahoma Co-Chapter Leader, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America;
- Bernice Simon, 84, wife to husband Sylvan for 60 years, never missed a service, good, wise, wed and died in synagogue – Candle lit by Aliye Shimi, Exec. Director Tulsa Metropolitan Ministry;
- Sylvan Simon, 86, husband to wife Bernice for 60 years, kind, generous, selfless, wed and died in synagogue – Candle lit by Rev. Nancy Eggen, Kansas Oklahoma Conference of the United Church of Christ;
- Daniel Stein, 71, very devoted, always smiling, counted on for everything – Candle lit by Drew Diamond, Exec. Director, Jewish Federation of Tulsa;
- Melvin Wax, 87, honest, simple, quiet, generous, fabric of community – Candle lit by Sally Donaldson, Pres. of Congregation B’nai Emunah; and
- Irving Younger, 69, veteran, reliable, friendly, basketball and baseball coach, passed out prayer books to late-comers – Candle lit by Representative Regina Goodwin, House District 73, Oklahoma State Legislature.
Among the impactful speakers were Dr. Marlin Lavanhar and Pastor Alexis Carter who said to applause,“ When someone has narratives about how all Black people do this, or all Jewish people do this, or all gay people do this, or all Democrats do this, or all people in this tax bracket do this, or all Middle Easterners do this, may we wake up and interrupt the madness.”
Minister Lavanhar spoke regarding fighting against vicious anti-semitism and racism and quoted the late theologian Howard Thurman. Note- Tulsans, the late Anna Carroll and Sis-in-Law Jeanne B. Osby Goodwin were friends of Mr. Thurman. Son Robert Goodwin studied under Dean Thurman at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, Cali., and agrees faith in God, passed through generations, produces an overcoming resilience. Pastor Lavanhar journeyed through history and capped his insightful lesson with, “ The strength of all our ancestors is with us.”
Excerpted from Rev. Dr. Marlin Lavanhar message at B’Nai Emunah Synagogue on Oct 30, 2018:
Antisemitism is a vile form of hatred.
We mourn this week’s dead in Pittsburgh.
We mourn all of the millions who have lost their lives over the centuries to antisemitism.
We join our voices with those who denounce it.
We join our hands with those who work against it.
We join our hearts with those who weep at the devastation that it continues to cause.
America, after all, is a dark place.
Minister Lavanhar added, black people are killed in church and in a grocery store (related are the hate crimes by racist white men, Robert Bowers, 46, yelling “All Jews Must Die” and opening fire in a synagogue, Dylan Roof, murdering nine black bible study church members at Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, South Carolina and Greg Bush, 51, recently gunning down two black people, Maurice Stallard and Vickie Jones at a Kroger grocery store in Kentucky. Locked doors, 15 minutes earlier, prevented Bush from gaining access to black members of the First Baptist Church in Jeffersontown, Ky.)
We are a devastated people.
Trauma gets passed down between the generations.
Jewish people know a lot about transgenerational trauma.
So do the people of this city.
This is where the trail of tears ended.
This is the city where the largest race riot massacre happened in America.
This is the state where the Murrah Building was bombed, on an otherwise sunny afternoon.
The two deadliest incidents of domestic terrorism in the history of America happened here in Oklahoma.
We, in Tulsa, know more than we want to about trauma and how it gets passed down.
We still have a lot of healing to do here.
We can all learn a lot from the Jewish community and the African American community about how to sing in dark places. As Howard Thurman said, “When we are willing to enter the darkness and stay the course, it becomes luminous and we begin to have a new vision and a new hope.” Together we can do this and the strength of all of our ancestors are with us.