Today is June 20, 2019 /

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Chizuk Amuno Congregation

Tree of Life Synagogue Memorial Service

I cannot believe that we are here.  This moment seems so surreal that I have found myself in an almost permanent state of shock.  How could this happen in our country.  How could this kind of hatred find its way into our safe space, into our safe time and into our lives.  In truth, I almost think that the most appropriate response is to follow the example of our forefather Aaron and engage in a few moments of intense silence.  But silence is not enough.  Even though words fall short, we need something, and in the absence of acceptable answers, for now we will use words.

Our tradition asks us to offer the prayer in this moment of Baruch Dayan Haemet, praised is the judge of truth.  But this truth is just too difficult to bare.  So we offer one another words of comfort and consolation, we offer our brothers and sisters in Pittsburgh our support and whatever they might need in their excruciating time.  We offer one another a shoulder to cry on, the loving embrace of an enveloping hug, and most importantly we offer one another the hopeful promise that love and goodness will always triumph over hate and evil, even if we are just a little unsure. 

Anti-Semitism is unfortunately alive and well in our society today.  And we might be tempted to match this kind of hatred with a hatred of our own.  But now is the time to focus on and double down on love.  Rather than focus on the horrible perpetrator of this crime, let us focus on the acts of the Islamic Center of Squirrel Hill that has raised over $70,000 to support the Tree of Life Congregation.  Rather than focusing on the kind of bigotry that exists in the worst places of our society, let us channel the love and outpouring that the Jewish world continues to shower upon our brothers and sisters.  Rather than allowing the hate to win and paralyze us into abject fear, let us pledge to show up at Shul and remind those who seek us harm that we will not be deterred from being active in our communities.  To the Children in the room, you may have seen us upset and even crying over the past few days, but we will work harder now than ever to allow you to inherit a world that lives up to the normative values and morals that we have taught you since the days you were born.

We now light one candle in memory of each of the victims and offer each one an individual prayer of Baruch Dayan Haemet, in the hopes that truth of the entirety their blessed lives will triumph over the untimely end.