Suicide has become a serious issue within the Jewish community. Nine young men and women have taken their lives over the course of the past few years, and there is a very serious crisis at hand. This week’s Torah portion contains a passage which reminds us of the power of faith as we strive to find a path out of the confusion that suicide leaves in its wake. It is a passage which is read every year on Passover as part of the retelling of our journey to freedom:
My father was a wandering Aramean. He went down to Egypt with meager numbers and sojourned there; but there he became a great and very populous nation. The Egyptians dealt harshly with us and oppressed us. . . We cried out to the Eternal, the God of our ancestors, and the Eternal heard our plea and saw our plight, our misery, and our oppression. The Eternal freed us from Egypt by a mighty hand, by an outstretched arm. . . (Deuteronomy 26:5-10)
This small paragraph is a powerful passage for us to remember when we consider the value of faith when facing crisis. “We cried out to the Eternal. . . God heard our plea. . . and God redeemed us with an outstretched arm. ”
In moments of crisis, we may not always able to deliver ourselves from oppression, but we can always turn to our community, and there find renewed hope and strength. As a community we strive to embody many of the qualities we associate with God in this passage, and in response to the rising number of suicides, the community is trying hard to respond in a sacred way as well.
Please click here to read more about a suicide prevention program that HCRJ is sponsoring along with most of the Jewish organizations in the City of Houston.