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One is Everything

We're surrounded by the death of innocents. Orlando. Nice. Dallas. Tel Aviv. Innocents dead at the hand of terror. Innocents dead at the hand of gun violence. Innocents dead at the hand of complacency and silence.

In Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray, France, a priest was murdered in his church, a religious man doing holy work. Hostages were taken. His throat was slit. His name was Fr. Jacques Hamel. He was 84-years-old.

Fr. Hamel's death made world news in an instant. It faded from world news just as fast. There had been so many other terror attacks in the past few weeks. Larger attacks. More than one dead. Nothing too dramatic compared with multiple bombings in Iraq, not that important when there was other news, like the U.S. Presidential elections.

The list of terror attacks maintained on Wikipedia is astounding. Hundreds dead each month all over the world. One and one and one.

The Talmud tells us that saving a life is the equivalent of saving the world; taking a life is the equivalent of destroying the world. In Orlando, 49 dead. As a friend said, 49 is 49 ones, 49 worlds, 49 people. One and one and one. One is everything.


One is Everything: A Meditation on Numbers and Terror

Orlando. 16 June 2016. 49 souls
Kabul. 23 July 2016. 80 souls
Nice. 14 July 2016. 84 souls
Baghdad. 3 July 2016. 325+ souls
Dallas. 7 July 2016. 5 souls
Tel Aviv. 3 July 2016. 4 souls
Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray. 26 July 2016. 1 soul

One soul. A priest, in a church.
Just one soul and the world moves on.
We are shocked by the scale of terror.
The 49 and the 84 and the 325
With a plus sign next to it because, well,
It's just tough to get an accurate count
In so much death.

One is everything.
Each one, a human.
Each one, a life.
One is enough to cry out to heaven.

When we count the scope of terror,
The range of death,
Remember, too,
The injured and the wounded,
The witnesses and the bystanders,
The first responders and the families.

One is 100 witnesses.
One is 1,000 mourners.
One is 10,000 traumas.
One is a soul G-d sent to this earth.
One is everything.
A priest doing holy work.
A boy studying Torah.
A girl sleeping in her bed.
One soul. One heartbeat.
One more, too soon.

God of Consolation,
Every soul is Yours,
A world, unique and holy.
Let Your peace reign quickly among us.
Let violence, hatred and terror vanish.
Let Your comfort descend from heaven,
And let the righteous rest in peace.


Alden Solovy is a Jerusalem-based journalist, poet, liturgist, and teacher whose prayers have been used by people of all faiths around the world. A three-time winner of the Chicago Headline Club’s Peter Lisagor Award for Exemplary Journalism and author of Jewish Prayers of Hope and Healing, his nearly 600 new prayers appear in multiple anthologies, prayer books, and websites. His work can be found at ToBendLight. He can be reached at alden@tobendlight.com.

Found in: Mourning & Bereavement, Communal Tragedy

Tags: kaddish

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