We all know now that the massacre at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Congregation represents the largest mass killing in the Jewish community in US history. Our hearts are broken, as we pray for the deceased and their families and offer a Mi Shebeirach for the wounded, including members of law enforcement who risked their lives to confront a madman armed with an assault rifle and intent on murdering as many Jews as possible.
There is no way to make sense of senseless violence. Explosive devices sent to US political leaders earlier this week. Nazis and white supremacists spewing hatred and inciting a shameful and deadly confrontation in Charlottesville last year. The murder of 9 black church members during Bible study at the Emanuel AME congregation in Charleston in 2015.
It is way too easy to lose hope and to think, “That’s just the way it is.” It isn’t, and it doesn’t have to be. We cannot allow ourselves to get so accustomed to violence and hatred that we come to accept these horrific episodes as our inevitable future.
We all know what we need to do. First, we need to remind ourselves that good, caring people far outnumber those with hate in their heart and violent intentions. Next, we need to use our voices at every juncture possible to shout down anti-Semitism, racism and divisive speech and to continue to encourage conversations – even if we disagree – among good people seeking to find answers. And, finally, we need to choose community over confrontation and call out those who put all of us – in our houses of worship, our schools, work places and everywhere else – at risk.
It’s time to stand up to hatred. If not now, when?