Pittsburgh, Three Years Later

Pittsburgh, Three Years Later

From the desk of Rabbi David Lyon

Three years ago, a lone gunman walked into Tree of Life Synagogue, in Pittsburgh, and murdered and injured worshipers in the synagogue. The horrifying news spread around the world, but it left the deepest impressions on Jewish communities. If it can happen in America, then it can happen anywhere; and if it’s happening here, then something has changed. But, have things changed forever?

I believe things have changed, and while “forever” is too long, we shouldn’t expect our experience to change any time soon.

In a recent article in JNS (Jewish News Service), Jacob Kamaras interviewed rabbis, including me, to answer the question, “Can a synagogue feel open with locked doors? Rabbis reflect on Pittsburgh, three years later.” The link is below. Today, every synagogue is reviewing its security measures and no synagogue is without means to protect its members and visitors every day of the week. In the past, I used to write letters for you when you traveled to Europe. The letter served to verify that you were Jewish and your reason for visiting a synagogue in Europe. Now in America, we’ve entered an era of locked doors and barriers to entry, too.

Our highest priority is to lower barriers to entry with warm embraces and many ways to feel safe and calm within the synagogue and its facilities. Livestreaming is a familiar way to come inside without leaving home, but everyone’s favorite way to engage still responds to our human need to see, to be seen, and to feel each other’s presence. Jews don’t thrive in isolation, and we’ve been taught, “Do not separate yourself from the community” (Pirkei Avot). We need each other, you need your rabbis, and your rabbis need you.  We have friends here who care about our safety and well-being. We have interfaith relationships that are reliable and strong. The adage might suggest that “the more things change, the more they stay the same,” but as much as antisemitism is ever-present, our allies are more numerous, and we have learned from history.

As we pause to reflect on the tragedy in Pittsburgh and our duty to honor the lives that were taken, please reflect on their names so that they will not be forgotten for the deeds they did and the faith they honored.  May their memories be for a blessing.

Joyce Fienberg                                    David Rosenthal
Richard Gottfried                               Cecil Rosenthal
Rose Mallinger                                   Bernice Simon
Jerry Rabinowitz                                Sylvan Simon
Daniel Stein                                        Irving Younger
Melvin Wax

We pray that the lives we’ve come to know in the places we call home should always be sacred to us for the love, joy, and peace we find there.


Pittsburgh, Three Years Later 3

Click Here for the news article link