Introduction: Every bullet leaves pain in circles rippling outward, like the diameter of the bomb the Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai once described. Amichai’s bomb extends from 30 centimeters to the immediate range of dead and wounded, out to a solitary mourner “far across the sea,” finally encompassing “the entire world in the circle.” (Chana Bloch’s […]

The following prayer, prepared by Virginia Spatz and Rabbi Gerry Serotta, was offered for use during the Yizkor (Memorial) service Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, 5777 at Fabrangen Havurah. It is based on the yizkor prayers of several different Jewish traditions, relying strongly on the notion that acts of tzedakah [righteousness, sometimes translated as […]

Sandra Bland. Alonzo Smith. Natasha McKenna. Jamar Clark. The heartbreaking and indicting list goes on. Activists and mourners from the DC area and around the country joined together last year, at this season, for “Voices of Grief and Struggle,” focusing on ten mothers who lost black sons in police custody around the U.S. Since, then, […]

Readers may have noticed a long silence on this blog. But I have not been entirely silent. At start of June 2015, I began an additional blog, #SayThisName, to mark those lost to homicide and police action in the District of Columbia. Since then, I have personally typed out and said aloud the names of […]

Chapter 21 of Deuteronomy (Shoftim: Deut 16:18-21:9) tells the Israelites what to do, upon entering the land, “if a corpse be found..the identity of the slayer not being known.” This is the elaborate ritual involving the Red Heifer in which the elders of the nearest town must be prepared to declare, “Our hands did not […]

Houses of worship across the United States are separated by many things: culture, religious denomination, style of prayer, theology and language. We’re also separated by demographics and location, even in the same town.

I believe it was DC’s former police chief Isaac Fulwood who noted that 10 a.m. on Sunday is the most segregated hour of life in the city. Of course, many things have changed since Fulwood’s tenure in the late 80s — and Jews, as well as some other religious communities, don’t hold their biggest weekly worship on Sunday. But his basic point remains.

The relative segregation of our lives and our worship communities means that, in cities like the District of Columbia, some communities mourn violent deaths with terrible regularity while others, in the same city, remain largely unaffected.

It has been one of my deepest prayers that we can find ways, in our various worship communities, to ensure that our worship reflects the welfare of our own city, specifically, while never losing cite of our wider place as citizens of the world. One place we must start, I continue to believe, is for every house of worship in the city to acknowledge the violent losses of its citizens, even if those lost and their primary mourners are not members of the congregation.

#SayThisName

In this past week, the District of Columbia has been bereaved of the following individuals through homicide:

  • June 26 1200 block of Raum Street, Northeast
    23-year-old Kevin Cortez Johnson, of Southeast, Washington.
  • June 28 1600 block of E Street, Northeast
    33 year-old Darrell Michael Grays of Northeast, Washington, DC.
  • June 29 Unit block of Galveston Place, Southwest
    25 year-old Rodney Delonte Davis, of Manassas, Virginia.

We are still in the 30-day period of mourning for these individuals, lost to homicide:

  • June 8 5100 block of Southern Avenue
    21-year-old Qur’an Reginald Vines of Southeast, Washington, DC.
  • June 10 (after June 3 injuries) Gallaudet and Kendall Streets, Northeast
    57 year-old Anthony Ray Melvin of Clinton, Maryland.
  • June 13 3200 block of 23rd Street Southeast
    54 year-old Kenneth Fogle of Southeast, Washington, DC.
  • June 13 2300 block of 15th Street, Northeast
    44 year-old Donald Franklin Bush of Upper Marlboro, Maryland.
  • June 14, 5200 block of Central Avenue, Southeast
    26-year old James Brown of Northeast, Washington, DC.
  • June 17 1300 block of Orren Street, Northeast
    25 year-old Larry Michael Lockhart of Northeast, DC.
  • June 17 3300 block of D Street, Southeast
    28 year-old Antonio Lee Bryant of Southeast, DC.
  • June 18 800 block of 51st Street, Southeast
    42 year-old Brian Sickles of Southeast, Washington, DC.
  • June 18 1300 block of 5th Street, Northwest
    26 year-old Patrick Shaw of no fixed address.
  • June 19 3600 block of Calvert, Northwest
    53 year-old Joel Johnson of no fixed address.
  • June 20 (after June 16 injury)
    16 year-old Malik Mercer of Clinton, MD (former 10th grader at Ballou SHS in SE).
  • June 23 (after June 21 injury) 2200 block of H Street, Northeast
    26-year-old Arvel Lee Stewart of Northeast, Washington, DC.
  • June 23 1200 block of Holbrook Terrace, Northeast
    19 year-old Heineken McNeil of Southeast, Washington, DC.
  • June 24 at the Tidal Basin
    20 year-old Deante Tinnen of Southeast, DC.
  • June 25 16th & Galen Streets, Southeast
    21 year-old Stephon Marquis Perkins of Maryland.

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