In a small grove of trees on the campus of Pierce College in Woodland Hills this past Sunday, a group of government officials and concerned citizens gathered to honor the victims of hate crimes. About 300 people representing a cross-section of the diverse Los Angeles community attended the Unity Over Hate Rally, all braving the intense August sun to share their support for peace, both locally and across the nation.The rally's main focus was to commemorate the events of Aug. 10, 1999. The families of those wounded that day in the shooting at the North Valley Jewish Community Center and of Joseph Ileto, the Filipino-American postal worker gunned down by the same alleged perpetrator, came up to the podium and tried to bring meaning to their personal tragedies. Alongside the stage stood a poster of Ileto, with his first name used as an acronym for Join Our Struggle [to] Educate [and] Prevent Hate.Ismael Ileto, Joseph's brother, gave the morning's most moving speech, noting that it had been a year of heavy losses for his family.
When painful loss occurs in our lives, we want to make some sense of it: Why did she get so sick? Why did I lose my livelihood? Why can't we conceive a child? Why did he die? In his new book, "Making Loss Matter: Creating Meaning in Difficult Times" (Riverhead Books, $23.95), David Wolpe, author and rabbi of Sinai Temple in Westwood, begins by asserting that during periods of great pain, we tend to ask the wrong questions. Whether consciously or not, we search in vain for an answer to the plaintive "why" in order to gain some measure of control over what has made us so powerless.