From The Home News Tribune
East Brunswick, N.J.
November 13, 2002

Daniel Pearl Education Center Is Helping Us See Again
By Joan Sichel

 

 For New Jersey Voices

 

In reading the cover story of Oct. 21 — “Area temple honors slain reporter Pearl” — I commend the Home News Tribune for featuring this on the front page, and I would like to share my take on it as a member of the congregation of Temple B’nai Shalom . . .

 

As I sit in this empty synagogue, the crowd has dispersed — all that is left are me and air conditioned hum.

 

Hundreds of chairs, which were full with impassioned souls listening to the story of Daniel Pearl, now stand empty — except one.

 

My eyes are locked upon the new plaque, a bright white Torah scroll with an oak sculpture of Daniel upon it. “The Daniel Pearl Education Center” at B’nai Shalom is in large decorative lettering. Humbly inscribed in the right hand corner is “So that we may be at home in the world.”

 

I pondered this simple statement for a moment. “So that we may be at home in the world.”

 

What does this mean to me? As a Jew, that all Jews be at home in this world and may the world at home with us. As a group, a religion, a culture, a part of history, that we have lost a place, the home that we so need, and so do all our children.

 

If I could speak to Daniel now, I would say: “To see your father speak so eloquently, so proud of his son’s spirit and character, so dedicated to a greater message of brotherly love and world peace in the midst of such sadness and turmoil — I am moved.”

 

As he called you “Danny” my heart sobbed. Before today you were just another article in the news. I cared, but I continued to eat my breakfast, feed my kids, run to the grocery store, get dinner ready, help my children with their homework, put the kids to bed and then sit in front of the TV absolutely exhausted and numb from rushing around the entire day — not one moment remaining. Not one. Never taking the time to sit still to think, feel and reflect.

 

Now I am sitting in this empty temple thinking, “How can I as a human being accept such misguided hatred of brother against brother or sister against sister, of human being against human being. Violence based on hatred is unacceptable, and as an intelligent, thinking species we should have the wisdom to be seekers of peace, not war.”

 

What is it that drives us so that we can only think of our next task instead of the larger picture? What is it?

 

In this fast-paced country, everything seems to be in nanoseconds, e-mail, “at the blink of an eye.” My life is flashing before me like the stream of TV commercials in a 60-second spot. Have I become part of the machine? What happened to our emotionally free society? When did it die? When did individual people stop caring, stop feeling, stop loving? When?

 

This evolutionary process, or should I say de-evolutionary process, must stop. We are not thoughtless, loveless machines. We are living, breathing human beings. We are capable of seeing, touching, hearing, thinking and feeling. Let’s start using these God-given senses again. Let’s take responsibility for the glaring injustices in this world of ours.

 

Daniel, though your glasses are now carved out of wood, I can see clearly into your eyes. They are looking at me. They speak to me. As your father said today when I spoke to him, admiring his courage for eloquently speaking to us today about a son, “Sure, I’ll give you my autograph — if it means moving one step closer to world peace.”

 

I looked at him and he at me and Daniel smiled.

 

Joan Sichel is a member of Temple B’nai Shalom and lives in East Brunswick.


This article was originally published in the Home News Tribune, East Brunswick, NJ, A Gannett Newspaper, and is protected under U.S. and international copyright laws.