JEWISH HISTORY, BEAUTY CELEBRATED
By LORETTA FULTON
Saturday, Oct. 27, was an ugly day.
Eleven people who were worshipping at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue were murdered by a gunman whose hatred of Jews suddenly turned deadly.
In Abilene, far from Pittsburgh, there were reminders that total strangers mourned alongside the loved ones of the victims and other Jews in Pittsburgh.
Paul Cornelius, executive director of the Discovery Center at South Eighth and Butternut streets, invites all Abilenians to stop by the Miracle of Israel permanent exhibit that opened earlier this year. An entire wing was added to the center, best known as a creation museum, for the Miracle of Israel exhibit. A major part of it is dedicated to reminding visitors of the persecution that Jews have suffered for all their existence.
Informational plaques and headlines from historic dates leave cover the walls and display cases:
“What Is Anti-Semitism?”
“The Chilling Darkness of the Human Heart”
“The Horrors of the Holocaust”
“Courage And Compassion”
“Learning From the Past”
And perhaps the most chilling is a headline Nov. 18, 1938, Daily Record in Boston:
“NAZIS PREVENT JEWISH EXODUS,” a prelude to the Holocaust to come.
But remember, the exhibit is titled, “Miracle of Israel.” None of the ugliness of the distant past or as recently as Oct. 27 can change that.
If a reminder of the endurance, the beauty and the richness of Judaism were needed, Rabbi Or Zohar and his wife Feliza provided it Nov. 1 when they led a worship service in Logsdon Chapel on the campus of Hardin-Simmons University.
“It provides healing for us to come together in interfaith witness,” said Dr. Robert Ellis, dean of the Logsdon School of Theology.
The couple lives in the Galilee region of Israel where Rabbi Or Zohar is musician, teacher of Judaism and Kabbalah, and community builder in the Israeli Reform Movement. He serves as the Reform rabbi of Misgav Regional Council in the Galilee. Feliza Zohar is a singer-songwriter, song leader, artist and choreographer.
The appearance of the Zohars at Logsdon made history on two counts. It was the first time a rabbi had led a Jewish worship service in the chapel of the Baptist university and it was the first time that Zohar had led worship in a setting outside a synagogue.
Everyone who listened to the stunningly beautiful music of the Zohars and shared their prayers agreed that the day not only was historic but needed and appreciated.
“We know all the people here share this agony with our people,” Rabbi Zohar said.
The couple alternated reading prayers in Hebrew and English with singing songs based on vaious psalms. They concluded with a peace prayer sung in Hebrew that translated to English words familiar to most Christians:
“May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable to You, Adonai, my Rock and my Redeemer. May the One who makes peace in the high heavens make peace for us, for all Israel and all who inhabit the Earth. Amen.”