How I Won’t Respond To Paris

I now get the phrase, “Beside myself with grief.” Because that was how I heard the news about Paris. – Beside myself.

It was our routine post-Shabbas quick-sweep of the news. “Oh damn,” my husband muttered, his head buried in his iphone. I braced myself.

“Paris.” And he spelled out “1-2-8 D-E-A-D” – to protect the tender ears of our Hebrew-speaking kids.

And like that I simply stepped outside of myself. I watched from some suspended balcony as a tsunami of reactions hit my shore.

1. The first wave – Shock. Like a sharp clip, a pin-prick…no, an oil-drill…of pain.

(Like you feel when you read articles like THIS about the victims.)


2. Then came Outrage. Flanked by disgust and a serious flash of fury at those “industrial-strength douche-bag” terrorists, as John Oliver puts it in this excellent clip.

Click here for the video.

images3. But then the anger complexified. It shape-shifted over to the French themselves. – I admit it. My Israeli “told you so” kicked in swift and strong and resentful.

4. In tandem came my Self-Righteous Indignation – “You wanna label something. Label this, you EU muthaf’ers.” Pardon my French…but my inner-voices apparently curse quite a bit.

(Or as David Suissa puts it so eloquently in this article.)

12249612_10154588830637316_1895552404042413468_n5. Which all gave way to another cold wash of grief. And concern. And more pain. Dull heavy heaving pain.

6. There from the pain rose a silent smokey lift of prayer. “Dear G!d, E-n-o-u-g-h! Please give us some Moshiach already.”

Click here to hear Madonna’s prayer that she put up for Paris at her concert last night.

7. And then – finally – came the LOVE. My therapist-self did show up eventually, all soft-hearted and teary-eyed. “I totally hear and support you, my dear wounded Paris.”

8. Which flowed into a sense of Responsibility. Movement to Action. Protest. Expression. Je Suis Everything!

Click here to read this inspiringe post about people helping each other in the face of the terror.

9. And in the end, a candle lit somewhere in my heart. – I just filled up with light and remembered my essential task and the calling of my people to “Be a light unto the nations.” Yes. Especially in all this darkness. How can I be the light?

So it was, standing beside myself, I watched each of these insistent characters surface. Each had its say. Like at a big fat Jewish wedding. Or more apt – and more tragic – like at a big fat universal funeral.

All of these were my voices. All in chorus and in tandem and in fractures and in dissonance.

And then I looked out — at you. At my FB feed, at my friends, at my people. And what do I see?

I see French-flagged profiles emerge slowly like night stars.

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I see troubled broken-tongued prayers for humanity.

I see my West-Coast liberal friends calling for LOVE.

I see my West-Bank settler friends calling for JUSTICE.

I see my angry friends. My mournful friends.

My French friends checking in as ‘Safe’ in Paris.

And I resonate with all of you.

And I clash with some of you.

I am frustrated by you. And, I have no doubt I frustrate you too.

But here we all are. All of us beside ourselves.

Reacting. Responding.

All of us deciding which voices to raise. What to repress? What to stress? What to unravel in the face of another senseless blood-let?

And so I ask this of all of us. How can we indeed stand beside ourselves and from there CHOOSE – consciously & conscientiously – which voices to raise? – How can we respond responsibly?

Please, dear friends, I beg of us all, choose wisely. Choose the voices that will be the most healing, the most healthy and holy.

To my friends who are angry, who are resentful…where will this take you? Where will this take the world?

We have the power to choose who we will be, how we will be.

As for me, I am striving to respond from the place where I feel called to be a light unto the nations…and unto myself and my family.

So for me, in this round, I’m choosing outrage at the perpetrators and compassion for the victims.

My many voices of indignation, frustration, resentment will all stand silently to the side today.

Je Suis Beside Myself.

And from that place, full-facing the darkness, I will try mightily to lift a voice for light.