The Shooting at UCC in Roseburg

Rabbi Cahana’s comments at the candlelight vigil for the victims of the shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon

October 1, 2015

Thank you, Mayor Charlie Hales, for gathering us together on this sad day.

My friends, the mayor has charged us, we faith leaders from across the religious spectrum, to help us all understand what has happened today. I have to extend my apologies to you, Mayor Hales. I cannot. Because I do not understand. I cannot comprehend. Like so many of us here, I am lost.

Normally, I would join my respected colleges here in crying out to G-d. Like the Psalmists I would lament: Meema’amakeem k’rateecha Adonai – Out of the depths I call to you, Oh God! (Ps 130:1). But tonight, God is busy. Comforting the bereaved, supporting the injured. And if we are doing God’s work, we are doing the same.

But at the same time as we would cry out to God, God is crying out to us. For it is not God who allowed this tragedy to happen. We did. Why weep to me? Where are YOU? Why do you not take care of the mentally ill sufficiently? Why do you allow your streets to be flooded with weapons of mass destruction? Where are you? – God calls out.

And where are we? We are silent.

This is a beautiful and meaningful gathering, and I thank our mayor for arranging it. But there have been far too many candlelight vigils for mass shootings of our children and other innocents. We know there must be a tipping point; a time when we decide as a society that this is not normal. This is not acceptable. This is not allowed. A time when we will not be paralyzed into inaction. Let this that time! Let this be the last vigil.

We need more than prayer tonight. We need action.

For the sake of the murdered, may we commit ourselves tonight to the hard work ahead. And let us and our children live in peace.

In Our Time: 50 Years of an Evolving Jewish-Catholic Relationship

In our Time

In Our Time: 50 Years of Evolving Jewish-Catholic Relations

Sunday, October 25, 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Please join us for a commemoration, celebration and reflection on Nostra Aetate 50 years later. Featuring a dialogue between Mary Jo Tully, the chancellor of the Archdiocese of Portland, and Rabbi Emanuel Rose, whose doctoral dissertation was on Nostra Aetate. These two panelists will describe the strong ties that have developed between local Jews and Catholics over the last few decades. Dr. Michael Cameron, an associate professor of historical theology at the University of Portland, will provide an historical context for Nostra Aetate and also moderate the discussion.

Read about the event, including quotes by Rabbi Cahana, in the Catholic Sentinel: Jewish-Catholic relationship to be celebrated

Lamentations: A message from Rabbi Cahana

July 31, 2015

As we prepare for Shabbat we learn of two horrific terrorist attacks in Israel. Neither were perpetrated by our traditional enemies. To our shame, these savage acts were the actions of Jews.

The first was a knife attack during a Gay pride parade. The attacker who gravely injured 6 innocents had just been released from prison. Unbelievably, the crime for which he had served a 10 year sentence was for attacking the same parade a decade earlier. He is unrepentant.

The second horrific attack was perpetrated in the Palestinian village of Douma. Firebombs were thrown into two homes by masked Haradi (ultra-Orthodox) men, who took the time to identify their cause in graffiti: “Revenge” and “Long live king messiah” were written in Hebrew alongside a Star of David. This showed the evil perpetrators to be acting as part of the “Price Tag” movement – extremist settlers who use violence against Palestinians to settle scores. They are unrepentant.

Ali Saad Sawabsha, an 18 month old toddler, was killed in this vicious attack. All of his family were hospitalized with severe burn wounds. Their pain is our shame.

Along with every Israeli leader of every political position, we condemn these acts of terror and are ashamed that some extremist Jews have descended to such barbarity. We call on the Israeli government to fulfill their pledge to bring these criminals to justice. Further we call for a deep examination of the circumstances that have allowed this kind of home grown terrorism to exist. We cannot create a secure Israel while lawless terrorists operate – perhaps with the encouragement of some extremist Jewish leaders. This is an evil which must be rooted out.

We have just completed the Jewish commemoration of Tisha B’av – the day of lamentation for our lost Temple and lost history. This Shabbat, which should be a Shabbat of Comfort, we continue our lament. We pray for the victims and we pray that no one will pay the price of terrorism.