On October 27, 2018 – what was to be a peaceful Shabbat morning – 11 members of the Pittsburgh Jewish community lost their lives in a horrific act of hatred. The shooting at Tree of Life Synagogue, which was the most brutal anti-Semitic attack in the history of the United States, sent a shockwave through Jewish communities – nationally and globally.
How could someone commit such a heinous act? Are we at risk? What can we do to help? These are just a few questions that would be asked in the subsequent days. Locally, over 1,200 people – from both the Jewish and non-Jewish community – gathered to remember those who lost their lives, pray for those who were injured, and stand together in solidarity against violence and intolerance.
Sadly, less than five months later, another tragedy would occur. This time, 51 people perished in the Christchurch mosque shootings. While the local Islamic community held a gathering to remember those who died in New Zealand, many people from our Jewish community attended to offer our condolences and support.
Less than five months after the mosque shootings, nine people were killed in a mass shooting in our very own Oregon District. Once more, people found themselves asking questions that had no definitive answers. The community came together to remember the victims and comfort each other in an unfortunately all-too-familiar fashion.
The common thread, sadly, in these shootings (and the many more that have transpired over the last year) is hate. Hate for certain religions, certain ethnicities, certain beliefs, certain world views, etc.
In the aftermath of Pittsburgh, one particular statement emerged – STRONGER THAN HATE. While it can be hard to wrap one’s head around this statement in the harsh throes of grief, the response to the Pittsburgh shooting – and the other shootings – illustrates the power we possess as a collective community. Indeed, we ARE stronger than hate.
As many gather together this Sunday to observe the anniversary of the Pittsburgh shooting, I take comfort in knowing that the traditions we will practice – such as lighting yahrzeit candles, studying Torah, and engaging in acts of charity – will pay homage to the victims who tragically lost their lives for no other reason than simply being who they were – Jewish.
Join us and thousands of others for a virtual commemoration ceremony and a global moment of remembrance: click here for more information.
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