Dear Temple Family,
We are heartbroken to hear the news of the murder of innocent people in a synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA this Shabbat morning. While many details remain unknown, we do know that at least two police officers and many others have died, and still others are wounded.
While this attack strikes close to home because it targeted a synagogue, we cannot help but see it as the latest in a line of attacks driven by hatred toward a specific group. In the recent past those groups have included Muslims, Christians, immigrants, members of the LGBTQ community and many others who were seen as “other” by the attackers. We know that hatred is not a recent invention, just as the specific hatred called anti-Semitism is not a recent invention.
We respond to this latest attack in two ways:
First, we want you to know that over the past several years we have “hardened” the Temple Rodeph Torah building and property in several ways, including new door locks, automated locking of the doors during religious school, video surveillance of the property and new, high-intensity lighting for the entire premises. We have also conducted drills and educated our staff on emergency procedures. Today, Mayor Hornik of Marlboro announced increased patrols of all houses of worship in the Township as well. We will do everything in our power to protect the safety and security of every person who comes to the Temple, while recognizing that nothing can ever be “perfectly safe.”
If you would like more information on the security measures we have taken, and if you have any questions you would like to ask, we will have an open, informational meeting at the temple tomorrow (Sunday) at 9:30 a.m.
Which leads to our second response: We, the undersigned, believe that until our country embraces serious, meaningful gun control legislation, we will all simply be waiting to learn when and where the next atrocity occurs. We who believe strongly in the power of prayer do not believe that prayers can stop bullets. We think back on every recent mass shooting and are aghast at the number of people who did not deserve to die or be wounded, and we call for someone – anyone – to stand up and address the problem rather than simply mourning, once again, over the victims.
Shabbat is a holy time; a time when we pray, over and over, for “Shabbat SHALOM.” We grieve with the Jewish community of Pittsburgh, and for the Pittsburgh community at large, as they struggle to understand what happened and how to move forward. We have already reached out with offers of help on behalf of the entire TRT community, and we will keep you informed as we learn more.
Oseh shalom bimromav, hu ya’aseh shalom aleinu, ve-al kol yisrael, ve-al kol yoshvei tevel. – May the One who makes peace in the heavens please, please make peace for us, for all Israel, and for all who live on earth.
Rabbi Donald A. Weber
Cantor Joanna Alexander
Rabbi Shira Stern
David Gronlund-Jacob, Educator
Robbin Manne, President