When one suffers, we all suffer.
As the Surfside tragedy unfolded in our own “home” community, with many victims of the Champlain Towers South being Jewish, I sought refuge at a local Chabad synagogue where I could pray for those personally affected by the catastrophe.
I feel it necessary to be closely bound by my Jewish faith, especially in times of great sorrow.
On my spiritual journey of an even deeper interest in Judaism, during the last Shabbos, I attended a community service and dinner at Chabad Chayil of Highland Lakes and was immediately welcomed with open arms.
I found it necessary to be surrounded by our mourning community. The previous week, which was the first Shabbos after the disaster, the same synagogue hosted survivors from the building.
“Chabad is nonjudgmental and genuinely cares about people,” said Rabbi Moishe Kievman, of Chabad Chayil.
“We are there for people at all stages of their life and in any place where life may bring them. Here you are welcomed, in fact, encouraged, to ask questions and seek your own truths, and here you are implored to be as nonjudgmental of your neighbor as he or she is of you.”
Before that Shabbat experience, I recently visited Chabads in both Singer Island and West Boynton Beach.
The irony of those prior occasions is that both came on the heels of tragedy or turmoil.
At Chabad Singer Island, I attended a Lag Ba’omer celebration the day following the Mount Meron pilgrimage in Israel where at least 45 people were trampled to death as they observed the ancient holiday.
“In times of crisis and hardship, and also in the better times, it is integral that we always show care and love for one another, that one can know that we are there for them in any way that we can be of support,” said Rabbi Berel Namdar.
The rabbi and rebbetzin of Chabad Jewish Center of West Boynton Beach welcomed me into their home for an intimate Shabbos dinner following the Israeli-Palestinian conflict when support among our faith was so vital.
“Warmth and joy is the essence of what Chabad is all about. The Lubavitcher Rebbe’s vision was to create a center where all are always welcome to join and experience the beauty of Judaism,” said Rabbi Yosef Raichik.
In times of tragedy or triumph, remember that in Judaism, we are all one family there to comfort each other.