ACROSS THE STREET from my mother-in-law's condominium in downtown Seattle, a Muslim-American had just opened fire in the Jewish Federation building, killing one woman and injuring others. He was, he said, protesting Israeli actions in the Middle East.
At the time, my husband and I were visiting his stepmother, Lynda, and as we walked home from our movie matinee—past squad cars, yellow police tape, circling helicopters, and TV news cameras—we were somber, shocked into silence. That night, as Lynda answered phone calls from concerned friends and family, we were still shaken. Lynda, who is Jewish, felt particularly vulnerable and shared some stories of anti—Semitism she had experienced as a child.
The next day, when the police learned that the gunman, who had a history of mental illness, had acted alone, they lifted the warning against attending Saturday services. We decided to visit Lynda's temple. Except for the security guards protecting the entrance, the service was an ordinary one, with the happy celebration of two girls becoming bat mitzvahs. However, at the end, the rabbi announced that the woman who had been killed, whose name had just been released, had been a beloved member of that congregation. The grief in the room was palpable.