Two Years Later: A Reflection

October 27, 2020

The mantra of our wedding weekend, two years ago, was:

Joy and sorrow.

The joy of our wedding in Los Angles and the sorrow at the shooting in our community in Pittsburgh. This paradox has been the cornerstone of our understanding of that time. The unparalleled joy in the dancing that was the hallmark of our wedding and the depth of pain of violence perpetrated in our sacred space.

It is the shatter of the glass at the end of the wedding.
It is the redirecting of funeral processions for bridal processions.
It is our people’s unending yearning for justice and freedom.

Our experience is manifested in the triptych of concentric circles.

At our aufruf, one week before the wedding. We danced in circles in the Ballroom at Congregation Beth Shalom, surrounded by friends and community members. This was the launch into our wedding period, full of potential, opportunity, excitement.

During the Hora, we celebrated during the wedding, the day after the shooting. We spun and spun for what felt like hours, sweaty and happy. Holding our simultaneously full and broken hearts. It was a moment in time, held aloft by sheer will and profound communal love.

And one week later, at our final sheva brachah, hosted by our community. We picked ourselves up in that same Ballroom and danced through the tears. Finding the spark of possibility amidst the darkness.

These three moments, the pillars of our experience have taught me important lessons.

Surround yourself with a caring community.

We could not have made it through that weekend without our family, our friends, and our community. For every moment we needed them, they were there. They held us as we cried, they supported us when we faltered, and they made us joyful when we needed. The love we felt was palpable.

And this is what we tried to bring back to Pittsburgh.

We held others as they cried, supported them as they faltered, and shared our joy when it was needed. Recognizing how others have helped us can be a reminder to always be there for others. There is a pain in all of us waiting to be soothed by someone who loves you.

Wrap yourself tight in a community that cares.

There is no choice but to hold the impossible.

As much as you choose your path, on some level, life happens to you. What you’re left with, most of the time, is how you deal with it. This, I believe, is one of the largest challenges that face us as individuals. What do we do when life happens to us?

In the end, there is no choice but to hold it all, contradictions, sorrows, joys, laughter, and tears. All the impossible feelings together.

One of our most powerful qualities, as human beings, is to hold conflicting truths in our minds and hearts at once. The rabbis believed that the heart was the seat of the mind. I believe, despite their anatomically inaccurate statement, that there is deep honesty there. That our hearts and minds are ultimately inseparable. Sometimes they hold consistencies and sometimes conflicts.

And there is no choice but to find a way to manage.

When in doubt, love more.

This invaluable lesson, taught to me by my teacher, Abby Layton, is a reminder and an imperative.

It reminds us that doubt is there. In fact, it is always there. Sneaking and hiding in the shadows of our minds, the doubts of who we are, what we believe, and what matters whispers to us. As much as we might “know what to do” in any given situation, the fact of the matter is, we’re all just stumbling the best we can. Doubt is a fundamental truth to the human experience.

It is also an imperative, that as doubt is a constant, our love for one another must also be a constant.

Love is not an emotion but an action.
Love is a commitment.
Love is a worldview.
Love is labor.
Love is easy.
Love is hard.
Love is a story.
Love is physical.
Love is ephemeral.

Love is what binds everything worth having together. Love of the one next to you and of the one you’ll never know.

When in doubt, love more.

Two years ago, I wrote this, the night before my wedding, the day of the shooting.
It is as true now as it was then.

Thank you for reading! In my With Torah and Love newsletter, I write about Torah, Talmud, self-awareness, and becoming our best selves as students of life and Judaism.

About the Author

Rabbi Jeremy Markiz is a teacher and consultant. He teaches the Torah rooted in personal growth, kindness, intentionality, and bettering the world. He writes the With Torah and Love newsletter.

He helps clergy, congregations, and Jewish organizations grow and communicate clearly in the digital world, develop effective strategies, and solve problems with his consulting firm, Next Level Rabbinics.