A message from Rabbi Rubanowitz regarding the tragedy in Pittsburgh
As many of you know, I am in Israel, participating in a charity biking event attended by hundreds of Jews from Israel itself and all over the world, Jews of literally of every stripe and color: Israelis, Jews from China, Singapore, Australia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas. The opening ceremony focused on The important charitable cause everyone who was present had traveled so far for- to support Jerusalem’s Alyn Children’s Hospital. As I was told, it is usually a moving experience, a heart-touching event, and as I took part in the ceremony, I was indeed moved, touched.
But then the organizers shifted to a retelling of the horrific Pittsburgh massacre that occurred in the United States just a day before, on Shabbos Kodesh. Many people heard about it just then for the first time. What I experienced at that moment was nothing short of life-changing. The crowd around me literally broke down in collective pain and heart-wrenching sorrow. This occurred in a country where tragedies, bombings, terrorist attacks of every kind are literally a part of daily life. This news was told to many people who have never ever been to Pittsburgh and may have no connection or relationship to those that lost lives and suffered in Pittsburgh.
Yet these people cried as if the attack had happened to their own family, to their own friends and neighbors, as if the loss was in their own community.
I cannot describe how moved I was by witnessing this expression of pure love and solidarity with fellow Jews by Jews , who are people connected only by a shared heritage. I was humbled and awed. I was moved by the unthinkable tragedy itself-I am an American Jew with a synagogue and community to lead. Turning inward to my life and community, I shudder at the possibilities and how easily this could occur to my own Shul. I was moved, however, in an exponentially greater way by seeing how others,much more removed from Pittsburgh than myself, who wore their pain so much more obviously than I did. At that moment I learned about what it means to be a true Jewish brother and sister, and how honest ownership of what “just being Jewish” really means can translate into the kind of deep and sincere empathy and love for other Jews that I merited to see today.
We cannot return the lives lost or restore completeness to shattered lives. But we can let the world know how a blow to a brother and sister anywhere in the world is a blow to all of us, and that therefore we will not stand silent ever in the face of those who seek our harm. We will never let those who were harmed feel that they are alone.
Many things are going through my mind as to how we can best show our support: physical and financial help for victims and families, public vigils honoring lives lost or forever changed, increased Mitzvos, kindness, and good deeds, in the name and merit of the victims. All are and will be Important, and I hope to share with you opportunities for such involvement.
But in addition to making a loud and clear “Never Again” statement to the world by our mobilized reaction to this massacre, we will also be letting our Father in heaven know that when a child of his is hurt, we are hurt. That an attack against any of Hashem’s children is an attack against ourselves. It is my firm belief that when G-d witnesses that kind of reaction amongst his own children, He himself will seek to make the ultimate “Never Again” statement and put an end to all such tragedies from here on and forever, may it be His will!
For details about how you can participate in support of the victims of the Pittsburgh tragedy, contact Rabbi Rubanowitz through this website.
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