Out of communal tragedy we strive for hope. The murder of 11 people at a synagogue in Pittsburgh has hit our community hard. How do we respond to such an evil act of violence? Obviously not even a week after the attack we are still trying to sort out our feelings.
It is important to keep in mind that while this attack reminds us that anti-Semitism is alive and well in America, others stand in solidarity with us. In the days since Saturday, I have received many emails from individuals and clergy of other faiths offering condolences and good wishes. At Adath Israel we also received two bouquets of flowers from two separate individuals expressing their common humanity with us. I have put all of these messages into a document for people to read.
If the shooter in Pittsburgh’s goal was single out Jews for his hatred and violence, we must as a society strive to come together in response. This weekend, the Jewish Federations of North America has declared a Solidarity Shabbat and the American Jewish Committee (AJC) has created the social media campaign #ShowUpForShabbat.
The goal of these initiatives is not merely for Jews to come to synagogue, but for non-Jews to have an opportunity to join us as well. We have already received phone calls from non-Jews who plan to be with us at services this Shabbat. If you are Jewish I hope you will join us to welcome these guests and build bridges within our community.
We can also come together to show our support for the first responders who defend our religious institutions every day. For centuries Jews have lived in fear of the police, but in America they put their lives on the line to defend us. In response, GoFundMe campaigns have been started to help wounded Pittsburgh police officers who helped capture the Tree of Life synagogue attacker.
Last Sunday the Jewish community in Mercer County gathered at Adath for a vigil and I participated in another one at Rider University on Tuesday. In a few weeks (Tuesday, November 20th, 7:30 PM) we in Lawrence Township will gather for our yearly Community Thanksgiving Celebration, also at Adath. The theme this year is From Darkness Into Light and it will be another opportunity to stand up to anti-Semitism and racism. May our continued efforts push back against hatred of the other and all the forces that seek to divide us.