The following is a statement on the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting released by Marc B. Terrill, president of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore:

Shocking, surreal, tragic and yet believable. How incredibly sad that we are at this place.

I was married in Pittsburgh, my wife is a Pittsburgher and I have a number of people whom I love deeply that live in that wonderful Jewish community and city. In speaking to my in-laws yesterday, I discovered that my wife’s two cousins were among those killed in this senseless act of violence. The devastation and grief are beyond words. The pain and suffering will take a lifetime to reconcile and may never occur. How incredibly sad that we are at this place.

I also learned that my dear friend of 30 years was holed up in the JCC where the facility was in lockdown. Just 1,000 feet away, the carnage in the Tree of Life Synagogue, where he and his wife were married decades earlier, still an active crime scene. Unthinkable devastation. Lives lost, families destroyed. How incredibly sad that we are at this place.

It’s been a surreal, tragic and yet believable week. The news has been dominated by hatred and intolerance. So sad that we are at this place. Such a common refrain.

Yet, there has been an outpouring of goodwill and human kindness. Good must triumph over evil. This is our time to put an end to accepting this as “believable.” Today, we are all Pittsburghers. Today, we must resolve to speak up in all ways we can as Jews, Americans and people who value civility.

These times are not good times, and we all must resolve to act as if our lives depend on it. We must be individually and collectively committed to making the believable, unbelievable.

I encourage every person in our incredible Jewish community to attend the synagogue of their choosing as we mark a Shabbat of Solidarity this coming Shabbat. Let us pray for those who are forever changed due to acts of hate and violence. Let us pray for our country to embrace love over hate.

May we live our strongly-held Jewish values of making the world a better tomorrow because of what we did today.

With Love,

Marc Terrill

The following statement was released by Jewish Community Services:

Our hearts are filled with sadness over the tragedy that occurred at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. When a tragedy like this occurs, it touches all our lives. We mourn for those who lost their lives, we pray for those who are healing, and we lend our support to those who experienced this horror. It is so difficult to explain why hate and anti-Semitism are a part of our world and to put into words how this affects each and everyone of us.

Jewish Community Services, in partnership with the Jewish Community Center of Greater Baltimore, will be offering support through a number of community programs on Tuesday, October 30:

Groups for adults who would like to process their reactions and feelings about the Pittsburgh tragedy:

5:30-6:30 pm, Weinberg Park Heights JCC

5:30-6:30 pm, Rosenbloom Owings Mills JCC

Sessions for parents – Guidance on talking with children about the event, hate, and anti-Semitism:

8:30-9:30 am, Weinberg Park Heights JCC

7:00-8:00 pm, Rosenbloom Owings Mills JCC

If you need disability accommodations in -order to participate, contact 410-466-9200 or info@jcsbaltimore.org as soon as possible. A good faith effort will be made to provide accommodations.

In response to previous incidents of mass violence, Jewish Community Services (JCS) staff have offered the following information about caring for your own needs as well as helping your children:

Senseless Violence: Processing Our Fears and Emotions

It’s a Scary World

Explaining This Mad, Mad World to Your Kids

That kind of thing doesn’t happen here…but it did

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network offers these additional resources:

Talking to Children about Hate Crimes and Anti-Semitism

Age-Related Reactions to a Traumatic Event

Explaining This Mad, Mad World to Your Kids

That kind of thing doesn’t happen here…but it did

We hope that these discussion groups and resources will provide our community with needed support. Our thoughts and prayers go out to our friends in Pittsburgh, and we honor them by continuing to be a strong Jewish community.

Joan Grayson Cohen

Executive Director, Jewish Community Services

The following is a statement released by the Jewish Community Center of Greater Baltimore:

It’s impossible to put into words the grief we feel today for the loss of life due to the devastating event that occurred in Pittsburgh at Tree of Life synagogue.

The congregation and Jewish community is a short distance away from the JCC of Pittsburgh. We’ve been in touch with leadership of the JCC to see how we can be helpful at this extremely painful time.

The Jewish community, our country, and the world feels deep pain by the devastation that occurred.  To think that hate and horror entered a synagogue during Shabbat services and what resulted is the deadliest attack on Jewish people in our country’s history is painful and heartbreaking.

At this time, we are working with JCS – Jewish Community Services – who will provide one hour group sessions for adults who would like to process its impact on their sense of well-being. JCS will provide parents guidance on talking with their children about the event, hate, and anti-Semitism. Dates, times, and locations will be finalized shortly. We will keep you apprised.

Here are two JCS articles for parents that we hope will be helpful in the meantime:

“That kind of thing doesn’t happen here – but it did”

Explaining this mad, mad world to kids”

At the JCC, we are constantly evaluating our security procedures as we take to heart our responsibility to create safe and secure facilities. In the aftermath of this horrific event, we are continuing to work directly with The Associated, security consultants, local law enforcement and federal authorities. We are grateful to the Associated Annual Campaign which provides significant financial resources to ensure that we can offer a safe gathering place for our entire community.  Please do your part to help us by having your membership ID or drivers license ready when entering our campuses and be sure to report any suspicious activity to our security guards.

Our hearts and prayers are with the Jewish community in Pittsburgh and our entire society.

B’shalom (in peace),
Maury Garten, Board Chair
Randi Buergenthal, 1st Vice Chair
Barak Hermann, CEO

The following is a statement from the Baltimore Jewish Council:

The Baltimore Jewish Council and The Associated are horrified by the shooting that occurred … in the midst of Shabbat services at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. This attack on a Jewish community during prayer — motivated by anti-Semitism — is among our greatest fears. We extend our deepest sympathies to the all of the families affected by today’s violence, including those attending services at the Tree of Life Synagogue and the heroic members of law enforcement who responded so quickly.

In the hours after the shooting, we have heard from many of our elected officials and partner law enforcement agencies, reassuring us that our communities and our places of worship are receiving extra vigilance and attention. We thank them for all that they do every day to help protect our neighborhoods and Jewish institutions.

Hate has no place in our society. We pledge to continue to stand in solidarity against anti-Semitism as well as other acts and words of hate. In response to hatred, in a display of solidarity, and to show that we will not be intimidated, we encourage Jews to pray, study and gather in their synagogues and other Jewish communal settings.

The following is a statement from Beth El Synagogue:

We wanted to reach out to let you know that you have been in our thoughts. The horrors that befell our fellow Jews in Squirrel Hill this past Shabbat have left us all feeling heartbroken.
Days later, the sadness still lingers, the tragedy feels surreal, the communal loss and grief are palpable. There are a handful of our congregants who have special connections to the Tree of Life Synagogue; who grew up there, have family there and lost loved ones there. For these personal losses – we are truly sorry.
After some days of grieving, we now ask ourselves: how do we cope with feelings of sorrow and helplessness when confronted with senseless hatred? We look that hatred in the face and we respond with resolve and determination. A determination to be agents of change, to work to fix the systemic failures within our society, and to refuse to let hate and destruction have the last word.
Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote: “There are three ascending levels of mourning: with tears — that is the lowest. With silence — that is higher. And with a song — that is the highest.” We imagine that all three of these responses to tragedy have a place in our journey through grief. We cried our tears, we spent time quietly thinking and working through what happened and what is next? And now, this Shabbat, we will come together in song.
We hope that you will join us in solidarity with the Baltimore Jewish community, and Jews around the world, this coming Shabbat morning at 10 a.m. During the course of services we will be holding a special Memorial Service to honor the eleven Jews who lost their lives in the Pittsburgh attack. We will recite their names, observe a moment of silence in their honor, recall their stories, and pray for their souls and for a better world and for peace and safety for all.
Together we will pray as if our prayers have the power to change our world and then return to our world after Shabbat and act as though everything depends on us.
Most importantly, let us now work together to ensure that those who lost their lives did not die in vain. Let their light shine brightly today, tomorrow and always and may their memories be a blessing.
With love and compassion,
Your Beth El Clergy,
Rabbi Steven Schwartz
Rabbi Dana Saroken
Cantor Thom King

The following is a statement from Chizuk Amuno Congregation:

As you may know, there was a tragic incident [Oct. 27] at our sister synagogue, Tree of Life Congregation, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Our hearts go out to the families affected by this senseless act of violence and to the congregation and community. Now is a time for our community to be unified and strong in the face of increased anti-Semitism. While we never want the voice of extremism to guide our world, we also must take every precaution available to protect our sacred congregation.

At Chizuk Amuno Congregation and Schools we take the safety of our community extremely seriously and have instituted extra measures and precautions. Within minutes of the incident we were in immediate contact with Baltimore County Police, our security company, the security consultants of the local and national Jewish community, and our synagogue leadership.

Chizuk Amuno Congregation and Schools has a serious and robust security protocol and measures regularly reviewed by security experts, our senior leadership, and our security committee. We will be immediately increasing our security presence and procedures and are working with local law enforcement and our security consultants to continue to evaluate our practices and plans. On Tuesday morning, our House, Grounds, & Security Committee will be meeting for a security review.

In recent years, we have benefited from Homeland Security Grants to harden and protect our facility and have just received a new grant to further enhance the safety of the members, students, children and guests who visit our congregation and schools.

We appreciate your vigilance when visiting the building by reporting anything suspicious, by entering through the designated security entrance, by securing doors as you exit, and by not letting people in through auxiliary doors and exits. We also apologize in advance for any inconvenience that our security procedures may create for you and your family.

The leadership of the synagogue and schools will continue to keep you informed and involved. We share your concerns and welcome your thoughts.

May this coming week be one of comfort and peace for our brothers and sisters in Pittsburgh, you, your family, our community, and the world.

L’shalom,

Sandra G. Moffet, President

Rabbi Joshua Z. Gruenberg

Glenn S. Easton, Executive Director

 

 

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