While this isn’t the subject of content I originally planned for this week, this is the crazy spontaneity of the world, and this week it is in regards to a tragedy.
On Saturday, 11 people were killed in an attack of anti-semitism in Pittsburgh.
I am in shock at the hatred toward our community and my heart aches for all the victims and their families. Here is my reflection of how this anti-semitic shooting has affected our country to constitute the worst attack of the American Jewish community in the history of our country…
It was Saturday morning at Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvaina during regular Shabbat services, when a man opened fire in the synagogue and began shooting.
Robert Bowers, a neo-nazi who hated Jews, migrants and refugees, shouted anti-semitic statements saying that he wanted “all Jews to die” and called us “filthy” and “evil”.
6 people were wounded.
11 people were killed.
This included 1 set of brothers.
1 pair of husband and wife.
1 97-year-old woman who survived the Holocaust-era, only to be brutally murdered in a random act of terrorism.
1 trusted doctor.
And 5 other innocent Jewish citizens who died while respecting their religion.
The local police department, first responders and the FBI were all quick to the scene, yet faced some injuries as well.
I am thankful for the service of these officers who did not bring religious beliefs into their service – but fought for all of us.
Sunday, October 28th – Media Takeover
When I woke up Sunday morning, I noticed the overwhelming amount of content that broadcast and multimedia news channels were sharing about the Pittsburgh attack. From concrete events about the Synagogue, the people affected, and the rescue response. To details about the individual that caused the massacre, Robert Bowers. It was found that he held an online alias on Gab – a messaging platform for white nationalists where he has been writing severe posts and memes attacking Jews and Muslims for the past year. To the nation’s response and a controversial conversation about President Trump’s position on anti-semitism and nationwide gun laws.
On Sunday my personal social media platforms were also flooded with responses to the attack, and since the majority of the people from my hometown are Jewish, I got to see an extensive amount of content where they shared their honor and voice. I could scroll forever and people were adding the #TogetherAgainstAntisemitism frame to their Facebook profile picture. Instagram stories were flooded with #StrongerThanHate graphics and Tweets of support from people of importance were going viral.
I received an email from the Jewish United Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, a reputable nonprofit organization that promotes Judaism in the Chicago-land area. The President stated, “An attack on one community is an attack on all Americans, and the ideals for which our diverse nation stands.” This stuck out to me because I do feel connected to the people geographically close to me yet there are millions of people that I do not know and forget they can hold different beliefs. This massacre also became an international ordeal as the Prime Minister of Israel addressed the attack and citizens of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv joined in remembrance.
Monday, October 29th – Personal Reflection
I am still struggling to find the right way to articulate my thoughts on the Pittsburgh shooting. I am beyond shocked how people can have so much hate within their soul. It seems so simple to coexist and live amongst people with different opinions, beliefs, lifestyles, etc. I can confidently say that my positive outlook on life comes from my Jewish experiences. The feeling of being part of such a strong and resilient community is indescribable. Although I’m not particularly religious I am extremely proud to be a part of this community. It is also easy for me to get sucked into the “Deerfield Bubble” → (aka my hometown is predominately Jewish, where weekly Bar Mitzvahs, having school off for Yom Kippur, spending Friday nights for Shabbat with your family are just the norm for everyone and sometimes I forget there is still so much hate regarding these practices.) It shouldn’t be this difficult to be a Jew (or be whoever you are). No one should have to be scared for their life because of who they are. One day this will be true – hopefully sooner than later. We should speak up when it matters. That time is now.
Tuesday, October 30th – Taking Action
Members of the Iowa City community organized a vigil in the University of Iowa student union this evening and I proudly attended to show support for my religious community, reflect on the tragedy and feel connections with others as a way to move past this disgusting feeling. Over 100 people attended the event to grieve the loss of life and stand together for healing and in solidarity against hate.
Initial feelings of shock, sadness and anger followed me throughout the weekend, but tonight’s vigil left me feeling something different, hope. Professors, students and local citizens filled the ballroom – and we reflected and listened and sang and read from the Torah and healed together. I saw Seniors hugging Freshman, strangers comforting one another like family and it reminded me that even in the darkest of moments we are the light. Because of tonight I know that I have my Iowa City community to fall back on and support me in my religious endeavors.