At 7:49 am, yesterday morning, many of us were preparing to go to synagogue. Perhaps by 7:54 you were finishing a cup of coffee, out walking a dog on a spectacular fall morning? Disgustingly, and tragically, some one thousand miles east of the Rockies, a hate filled murderer stormed the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh and destroyed lives, destroyed community, violating every sense of value we hold so dear as Jews and Americans.
Our hearts are broken – for the lives lost in a house of worship, and on our day of peace. Our hearts are broken as Jews who, in unprecedented fashion are being remined anew that our sense of security can be wiped away in a single moment. And our hearts are broken as American as we’ve witnessed three heinous acts by self-identified White Supremacists since Thursday, taking the lives of two African Americans and at least 11 Jews.
As this tragedy unfolded we also saw men and women act with compassion and duty. We commend First Responders and pray for the well-being of injured police. And we thank our local law enforcement. Scott Levin and the ADL activated its communication network with law enforcement and local communities through its Security Advisories, while Governor Hickenlooper and Denver’s Mayor Hancock ensured our continued safety through increased patrols around Jewish institutions state-wide.
Today, with broken hearts we will mourn. Our community will gather at a Community Solidarity Vigil sponsored by ADL and JEWISHcolorado and hosted by Temple Emanuel, at 5 pm in Denver. For community members in Boulder, a vigil will be held at Congregation Har HaShem at 4:30 pm. Both vigils will be community-wide and intended to provide a healing response to this hideous tragedy.
In the coming days, our community will work with local leaders to better understand how we can best ensure safety and security in our community, in light of this tragedy and the increase in hate crimes we have been witnessing over the past year. At the same time, we will renew our commitment to fostering peace and understanding in our community and the greater American community to which we all belong. We will also share with you important ways in which we can support the victims of the Pittsburgh shooting.
Together, the Jewish community of Colorado extends its deepest sympathies to the Pittsburgh and Squirrel Hill communities. We pray for a full recovery for those wounded and thank the heroism by those who saved additional lives. And may we continue to freely pray, as Jews and Americans, for the adherence to the values our nations have been built upon and for the peace our broken world so desperately needs.
The Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh has set up a fund to support affected families. Funds collected for Our Victims of Terror are earmarked for the psychological services, support for families, general services, reconstruction, additional security throughout the community, medical bills for all those involved, as well as counseling and other services that may prove necessary in the future. Our religious and day schools will also most likely require additional resources to help our youth process this tragic episode.
Diana Zeff Anderson, Chair, Board of Directors JEWISHcolorado
Jacki Cooper Melmed, Chair, JCRC
Rabbi Jay Strear, President & CEO JEWISHcolorado