kosher bookworm

After Pittsburgh, filling the world with light


The awesome massacre in Pittsburgh this past weekend casts a pall of irony and horror on the upcoming observance of the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht.

Of all the essays that I have read in response to this tragedy, the one I choose to bring to your attention is appropriately titled “In Solidarity with the Pittsburgh Jewish Community,” composed by one of our community’s leading Jewish spiritual leaders: Rabbi Zalman Wolowik of Cedarhurst. His words are heartfelt, simple in presentation but eloquent in both tone and content.

I trust that you will read this essay for its inspiring message and share it with all.

Our hearts are shattered by the heinous and horrific attack on our brothers and sisters in Pittsburgh. We mourn the 11 holy souls who were so cruelly torn from our midst, and pray to G-d to provide strength and comfort to their shocked and grieving families. Their unfathomable pain is shared by the entire Jewish people and all people worldwide.

We further pray for the complete and speedy healing of the injured, of the survivors and of the entire Pittsburgh community.

No words can possibly describe this pure evil. Jews who gathered to pray and celebrate Shabbat were killed for no reason other than the fact that they were Jewish. Again: While praying! On Shabbat! The killer’s bullets we’re aimed at us all. “All Jews must die,” he yelled while opening fire.

What is the remedy to such senseless hatred? What can we possibly do to eradicate it?

The Lubavitcher Rebbe of righteous memory answered this a number of times, with clarity and conviction: Wanton love. Cold-blooded, fanatical, baseless, relentless hatred can be uprooted from its core only by saturating our world with pure, undiscriminating, uninhibited, unyielding love and acts of kindness.

Today more than ever, we need to spread love and unity, positivity and light.

We must continue to walk to our synagogues proudly. And even as we grieve and mourn, we must increase exponentially our acts of goodness and kindness.

Some of the injured were law enforcement heroes who willingly chose to put their own lives in danger to help others. We stand in awe of their courage and dedication. And we are grateful to live in a country that protects our right to live openly and proudly as Jews. We value immensely the friendship and outpouring of support from so many of our fellow Americans.

To help illuminate this thick darkness and eradicate evil, please consider one or more of the suggestions below. Our brothers and sisters in Pittsburgh — and the entire world! — need our prayers and mitzvot (good deeds) now more than ever!

Here are some suggestions:

Increase in unity. The attacker harbored senseless hatred toward the Jewish people. We must increase our love toward each and every one of them. We are all one family! This is definitely the right time for each of us to reach out to someone we’ve disagreed with and grown apart from. 

Show Jewish pride. Especially now — let’s affix mezuzahs on our doorposts, wear our kippahs proudly. We must show that we are proud of our Jewish identity!

Add a mitzvah in memory of the victims. Whether wrapping tefillin, lighting Shabbat candles or another mitzvah, let’s each add one more act to our routine and dedicate it to the memory of those ruthlessly killed. 

Come to synagogue. Even if we haven’t done so regularly, let’s attend synagogue together and show the world that our synagogues are filled with vibrancy, love and life. Let’s fill every synagogue to capacity!

Let us beseech G-d to send healing and comfort to the grieving families and pray that He quickly eradicate all evil and hatred and usher in the coming of Mashiach, speedily in our days.

Let us pray fervently for the complete and speedy recovery of the injured. In the merit of our collective mitzvot, may we each bring much comfort and peace at this extraordinarily challenging time.