Urgent Message to TBE Members and Friends: On Anti-Semitism and the Pittsburgh Congregation Shooting

Dear TBE Members and Friends:

News has traveled quickly about Saturday’s horrific shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. During a morning brit milah (ritual circumcision) ceremony welcoming a new baby into the Jewish covenant, a man armed with an assault weapon stormed the synagogue screaming, “All Jews must die.” Many are dead: both congregants and first responders are among the casualties.

We mourn the victims, and we are outraged at virulent anti-Semitism that stokes senseless hatred and violence.

We understand all who feel like we’re set apart on a faraway island removed from world events – literally on City Island at the sea’s edge, insulated within New York’s vibrant multicultural Jewish community. We might take for granted our safety and religious freedom. We wish we didn’t need to witness history’s ongoing cycles of hate.

But witness we must. Anti-Semitism is an ugly, sickening reality. Our covenant is to be clear-eyed witnesses to the world – to stand up, speak up and act decisively to repair the world in every way we can.

This era calls us to action: our covenant is to heed that call.

In the days ahead, we will offer ways for all of us to stand together, band together and act together. We hope every member and supporter of this community will join us.

For today, know that we stand resolutely with the Jews of Pittsburgh and all Jews everywhere. We stand with first responders risking their lives to protect others, medical teams working to heal broken bodies, and trauma teams working to balm broken hearts. We stand with all people of good will – the human Tree of Life – passionately striving to root out the culture of hatred, intolerance and violence that today became fatal in Pittsburgh.

May we all soon see the prophet Isaiah’s vision of a house of prayer for all people (Isaiah 56:7). Let us all work toward that day, like the world and our very souls depend on it.


Paul Klein, President
Rabbi Shohama Wiener
Rabbi David Markus

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