The Rabbi in the ER

To enter the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., you must first be screened by security.

The entryway is darker than that of many museums. To the right begins the journey through the hallowed spaces of history. But one important piece of history hangs on the wall in the entryway. It is a large photo of a young man in a uniform. The plaque beneath it reads:

While protecting visitors and colleagues, Special Police Officer Stephen Tyrone Johns was fatally shot on June 10, 2009, by an avowed anti-Semite, Holocaust denier, and racist. Officer Johns’s outgoing personality and generous spirit endeared him to all who entered this museum, which was created to confront the very hate that took his life. His sacrifice shall never be forgotten.

I was the Director of Spiritual Care at George Washington University Hospital when Stephen Tyrone Johns was brought into the emergency room. His life would end that day, and mine would never be the same.

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