I was cooking for Shabbbat this Friday morning and heard on the radio that Meir Banai the Jerusalem born singer passed away. Banai's song Gate of Mercy played on the radio and I was off to a stream of associations about Mercy and Love in Jerusalem at our time.

This has so far been a very difficult beginning to 2017 for us Jerusalemites as two different aggressive acts of violence took place in our city over the year's first weeks. A mother strangled her four daughters and killed herself, right there in their house on Derech Hevron Street. A week later, a father from the village of Jabel Mukabar intentionally killed four soldiers and wounded 17 with his truck right there on the Jerusalem Promenade in Armon Hanatziv overlooking the old city. The attacker was shot dead on the scene.

These two events, brought pain and tears upon us Jerusalem residents. Something had gone very wrong in both cases.

And as I am filling the tomatoes with rice towards the Shabbat lunch meal I will be taking to my Rabbi tomorrow, to support her towards a refoua shlema a complete recovery following her operation, I am thinking of the unique web of communal support and solidarity we Jerusalemites enjoy and are active infusing in our synagogues, churches, mosques and beyond.

And wonder where this web of communal responsibility was, when it came to these two desperate figures, the Jewish woman and the Muslim man who went out to harm others.

There is an invisible web connecting all of us Jerusalemites. It may be invisible to the eye, but it is felt by all inside. We the citizens of this city, Jews, Muslims and Christians are interconnected, interdependent and interwoven in a web that holds us together in a unified whole. And for harmony to thrive in our city we all have to contribute our share.

Each of our respective communities is also forming a web of solidarity, support and nurturance for its respective members as well as a web of protection and belonging.

Alas, in both of these tragic cases we their fellow citizens failed to stop them from acting the way they did. In the mother's case, the community failed to see what was developing from her depression and in the father's case, community members who knew of his plans failed to stop him or inform the police.

Should they had acted on their knowledge and had found a way to stop him they would have saved his life, his family's future, as well as the lives and families of all of his victims. And the web that holds us all together in harmony would have become stronger. But that did not happen, and the web got weakened in return.

And as I listen to the tune and lyrics of the Gate of Mercy song by the late and great Meir Banai, I wish that we in Jerusalem strengthen the web of that which works and is good in our city and work to stop the violence and terror that is damaging to all of us, tearing apart the web that holds us together.

Let us build more love and mercy, with our behavior and attitude. Let our walk to the gate of mercy be a walk of loving deeds, and acts of compassion among us. "Betoh libi yesh tzeakah vehi gdolah, haru li et shaar harachamim," "in my heart there's a scream and it's great, show me the gate of mercy" sings Meir Banai. Let us build Jerusalem with love, for Meir's sake. 

 


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