newsweek.com/Written by Howard Kaye
It has been nearly three months since that Passover day when Lori, everything of my life, was cut down by a gunman’s bullets. As the calls for help came from the lobby that fateful morning, I rushed from the sanctuary and saw a woman grievously injured, and my lifesaving training kicked in. It was not until after long minutes of trying to breathe life back into the woman’s inert body that I realized she was my wife, my Lori. In shock, I passed out.
Ever since, my wounds have been open and raw, the pain indescribable. I’ve chosen to remain silent. But as the world marks 25 years since Gimmel Tammuz – the Rebbe, a man whose teachings guide me on the path towards healing, I feel an urgency to speak out.
Throughout the searing agony of Lori’s funeral, the ensuing shiva (Judaism’s seven-day mourning period), and the many long, unbearable days and weeks that followed, one central teaching of the Rebbe has kept me going, motivating me to keep telling myself: “I was placed in this unfathomably challenging situation for a purpose and I’ve been given the strength to overcome it.”
Not many know that Lori came to synagogue that morning to pray for the soul of her mother, who had passed not long before. Throughout her own grieving, she sought solace in the Rebbe’s teachings on coping with loss. Lori was an avid reader. The very last book she bought before her brutal murder was A Time to Heal: The Lubavitcher Rebbe’s Response to Loss and Tragedy. She never had a chance to read it.
As I work toward solace and healing through long days and lonely evenings, I find myself reaching for Lori’s book, still on her nightstand. Even in death, my loving, caring Lori anticipated my needs and prepared these comforting teachings. It’s almost as if she’s reading them by my side.
“While Judaism does not provide explanations for such tragedy,” the Rebbe taught, “it does have a response.” He urged that our response to humanly-inflicted tragedies be to take concrete steps to improve the moral state of society, to uproot the underlying causes of such moral depravity.
In trying to understand the root cause of the atrocity that took Lori’s life and, even more urgently, in seeking to prevent the next Poway from occurring, it became clear to me that Lori’s killer was motivated by anti-Semitic hatred. His was a convoluted and reprehensible mindset that perverted his morality and convinced him that some people were worthy of life — and others were not.
My wife, Lori, was the kindest, gentlest person I’ve ever known. I often felt she may have been one of the 36 righteous people that Jewish tradition teaches uphold the world. To the shooter, though, she was simply a Jew, and her life thus unworthy and abhorrent.
To stop the next shooter, we need to educate the world about its inherent moral compass. We need to share with all people the Seven Noahide Laws, the universal code of ethics predicated on the appreciation of a Supreme Being in whose image we have each been created, who cherishes each of our lives dearly, and to whom we are each beholden and responsible.