At 10 am on a Shabbat morning, Congregation Tree of Life in Pittsburgh, like hundreds of other synagogues, was beginning its morning services, Torah study with B’nai Mitzvah and baby naming guests in attendance. The scene is familiar to us all.
The assault is a direct attack on Judaism and America’s Jews. It represents the single, most violent incident against Jewish Americans in the history of the United States. We stand in support of our brothers and sisters in Pittsburgh and everywhere Jewish life is threatened. These events remind us our fates are intertwined. Our resolve to combat hate, anti-Semitism and terror is intensified by this horrific act.
The tragedy in Pittsburgh is intimately connected to the hateful rhetoric and the toxic divisiveness which poisons our country. Quoting my daughter, Leanne, “the white man who killed 11 Jews in the midst of their prayers (may their memories be for a blessing) was motivated by the interlocking, inseparable ideologies of white supremacy, anti-Semitism, and Islamophobia. He blames Jews for the group of Honduran refugees traveling through Mexico to seek a safe haven in the United States, while also blaming Jews for the “Middle Easterners” who he claims are somehow embedded in the group. He particularly hates HIAS, a (beautiful) Jewish organization that resettles refugees in the United States and advocates for refugees around the world.”