Privilege Blog

What Can Be Said, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:17am

Hello I have some trees and I have some dirt.

This is an incense cedar.

She is quite embarrassed that we caught her in bad lighting. So here’s a quick iPhone portrait mode glamor shot to mend fences.

Here’s our new White Alder. He was very picky about his lighting too. We gave him several options; he chose “All.”





He still insisted on a closeup.

And now I’ve just read the news about the shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh and I can’t continue. I’m sorry. I plant trees and write blog posts both because it makes me happy to do so and because I hope to be useful in the world, but this morning I am of no use and I am broken.

This is the Jewish prayer of mourning.

If it’s inappropriate in any way, please let me know right away and I’ll take it down. If there’s something better, let me know and I will put it up. My deepest sympathies to those who now grieve.


37 Responses

  1. Perhaps,…

    a blanket and pillow placed near your life giving trees

    lay your weary self upon the earth and let her mother you

    let the sun warm you

    let the birds sing to you

    let the breeze dry your tears

    let the flowers bring hope to you

    sending love your way
    i think that perhaps…

    celebrating the trees this morning was…well, you can finish that thought

  2. Lisa – As a Jewish woman, I believe it is very appropriate to share the prayer. Traditionally the prayer is recited by those who have lost a family member or friend, and by many to mourn Jews who perished in the Holocaust who have no one to say kaddish on their behalf. Right now, in this country, I absolutely believe that the more of us who ache for others who have their lives ended or destroyed or made more difficult or precarious, the better off we will be. Especially so if we mourn truly and provide comfort to survivors, reaching out across difference to connect. Thank you for reaching out and providing a meaningful example of connection.

    1. @Robin, Thank you for letting me know this was OK. This is a beautiful comment.

      “Especially so if we mourn truly and provide comfort to survivors, reaching out across difference to connect.”

      Because if we can’t, how are we even human.

  3. I was wondering if your post was going to be written before or after learning of this horrible event – as it turns out, you learned smack in the middle.

    I appreciate, so much, that you bring reality to your blog.

  4. Your trees are lovely. I will plant a new tree (this week) to honor those lives lost in PA. The senseless violence must end. I pray for a better world.

  5. Dear Lisa,
    I rarely reveal that I’m Jewish. Today, your blog has allowed me to do so.
    My mother was a refugee from Nazi Germany. Her life did not turn out well.
    I have not heard Mourners Kaddish in a long time. As a little girl I wondered how one got to the age that they would need to say those words.
    Thank-you for allowing me to retrieve that memory.


    1. @luci, Thank you more than I can say for sharing your history. I mourn for your mother. At least some of us get to arrive at this kind of age in good company. It is the greatest privilege.

  6. The beautiful photographs of your baby trees are exquisite and so touching. I needed to see some beauty today. I am participating in a postcard campaign with Postcards to Voters and have been furiously handwriting postcards to send to remind Democrats registered in the state of Georgia to vote. My hands are sore and I have been buffering my shock over this heinous act by more activity. I read this and wept much-needed tears. Thank you.

    1. @Dawn, Thank you. Sometimes tears are the best thing, tears and beauty. Oh, and acting, which you have done until your hands hurt.

  7. My profound thoughts and grief for those who lost their lives in yet another insane shoot event.

    Beautiful trees bring hope for the future but but these awful events bring despair.

  8. How lovely. I saved the article you linked for me last week and plan on getting one of these beauties.

    As to the shooting, well, no one should go to their house of worship and have to experience what these souls did. Sad times we live in.

    Hugs to you.

  9. I’m so sorry about shooting,victims and their family and friends- there is too many hatred and violence in the world
    And it was such a lovely beginning with your beautiful baby trees….-let’s hope that they will witness more hope,love and justness during their life

  10. I love the incense cedar.
    Trees are healing.
    I know somebody whose family goes to that synagogue and they are safe, but a bunch of people aren’t. I don’t know whether that’s the right prayer or not, but how can any prayer that seeks to cleanse evil be bad.

  11. There’s a Jewish custom to plant trees in Israel to honor someone who has died – so the timing of your post about trees seemed serendipitous to me. Also the synagogue where the shooting took place was called Tree of Life. Trees. Life. Remembrance.
    If we all plant something – a tree, a rose bush, or tulip bulbs – we can make the world just a little prettier and erase some of the ugliness out there. I am saddened by the hatred but I remain hopeful there are more good people out there than bad ones.

    1. @Audrie, Now I am remembering this custom – I had totally forget. They plant trees on the Avenue of the Righteous in Israel too, I believe. I remain hopeful that there are more good people too, but I think it has become clear that unless our leaders take responsibility for setting an example the not-good become brave and take up their hate in their hands.

  12. The name of the synagogue where this horrific massacre occurred is Tree of Life. Thank you for your vision of new and hopeful young trees flourishing at this terrible time, and for providing the words of the Kaddish so that we may share our grief.

    1. @Victoire, The name of the synagogue made this all the more horrific in the moment. I listened to the Kaddish, and felt pain, actual pain, in my body. Sharing is maybe the best thing to do, sharing, speaking up, taking peaceful but determined action.

  13. When I began reading your post last night I wondered if you had yet heard the horrible news. As I moved through the post I was stunned, but comforted, by the unknowing simile. If only we could all understand that we are leaves on the same tree of life.

  14. Lisa, thank you so much for this loving gesture. It is a beautiful act of solidarity and compassion.

  15. For a few years in the early 1990s, I (a non-practicing Episcopalian) lived not too far away in the same neighborhood, Squirrel Hill, and caught the bus to and from college daily just up the street from The Tree of Life Synagogue. These people were my neighbors. In the two days sense, I have been moved almost to the point of tears by this senseless act of violence and loss of life.


  16. Your trees are beautiful and life affirming. This is especially welcome when there is too much hate filled, polarizing rhetoric reported in the media. And sharing the Mourner’s Kaddish is both moving and thoughtful because truly many of us are simply speechless with horror when faced with such a heinous act. Thank you.

  17. I live about a mile from the site and was part of the peaceful and solemn march on Tuesday. Led by leaders in the Jewish community we sang Hebrew songs, one of which translates roughly to “we will build this world with love.” Everyone from older Orthodox Jews to young kids with piercings and purple hair were united together to mourn. Don’t let anyone tell you it was anything disrespectful of the dead. We are literally Mr Rogers’ neighborhood and we were at our best this day. Everyone here appreciates the love and support from around the world.

    1. @Maria, Thank you for telling us this story. It is good to know that our feelings and wishes for your community aren’t for naught.

  18. Usually Kaddish is recited by close loved ones of the deceased. But today I was reading about one of the victims of the Tree of Life attack, Jerry Rabinowitz. He was one of the first doctors in the Pittsburgh area to treat patients with HIV/AIDS, and apparently always stood to recite the Kaddish for those who did not have children to do so for them. It was heartbreaking and yet inspiring to read about his life:

    Thank you for making a place to mourn and acknowledge this loss.

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