With broken hearts, and fierce determination, I write on one of the darkest days in American Jewish history: the first murder of Jews in their own house of worship. We are all hurting today, and trying to make sense of the horrific and deadly attack on Tree of Life – Or L’Simcha Synagogue in Pittsburgh.
I share with you my official statement on behalf of the Union for Reform Judaism:
The slaughter of our brothers and sisters praying in their holy synagogue this Shabbat in Pittsburgh breaks our collective heart.
The murders took place during a prayer service in the Tree of Life congregation where, like synagogues all around the world, they were reading from Genesis recounting how Abraham welcomed perfect strangers into his tent. How painful and ironic that we live in a time when we have to temper our loving welcome of strangers as we protect our communities from violence and hate.
There is much which is unknown about today’s horrific killings. We will learn more over the next hours and days. We will continue to work with our nation’s synagogues and other houses of worship and law enforcement to enhance security and provide effective protections for our communities – and our nation.
This time the Jewish community was targeted, in what may be the worst anti-Semitic attack in American history. Other times it has been African-Americans. Or Sikhs. Or Muslims. Or members of the LGBTQ community. Or too many others. What we know is this: the fabric holding our nation together is fraying. It is our task to ensure that it does not come apart.
We mourn as one people along with all people of conscience.
Even as we wait to learn all the brutal facts, we know that we must always keep moving forward. Of course, we will be in touch regarding actions to take in the days to come.For now, as you consider how to process the Pittsburgh attacks in your own community, including how to talk to religious school students about it, we want to share some resources from the URJ and our partners at the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the Association of Reform Jewish Educators, NFTY, the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, the National Association for Temple Administration, and others to help you in that challenging responsibility. These resources will be continually updated as information comes in.