A message from Stephen H. Hoffman

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Will Shabbat in America ever be the same again?

As we walk into our synagogues tonight and tomorrow, we will nod a greeting to the police officer, and our thoughts will be on our 11 martyrs in Pittsburgh. But we are walking into our synagogues because we will not let the haters deter us anymore than Israelis let terrorists stop their lives.

I am writing to you from Jerusalem where the outpouring of love and concern from our Israeli family has been very comforting this week. What has been less comforting is the endless number of social media and other pundits who have sought to use this tragedy to justify their current political views or Jewish world views.

I get it. I understand why they’re all chiming in, but on this Shabbat, I don’t want to hear from them.

I want to reflect on the 11 precious lives we lost – each one of them a loving memory to their families and friends. They were each as familiar to us as our own fellow congregants. I want to recall the outpouring of love we received from our neighbors, from all faiths, at the vigils held across the nation and here in the streets of Jerusalem. That is the America that we aspire to build, that has been so good to us as Jews.

Yes, we will evolve new security measures and defend ourselves and our institutions. That’s what our Federation will do with the community.

But let’s also appreciate the expressions of Jewish unity that we experienced this week and not let go of them so fast. And while we’re at it, let’s also recognize the ties that bind us together with the people of Israel. Sure, there are political issues that divide and bother many of us; there are serious religious disagreements that drive each other crazy; but we’re family and together we have built a miracle in history in the Middle East. We can’t give up on one another.

In the weeks ahead there will be plenty of time to dissect what is happening to us in America, in Israel, and everything in between. But this Shabbat, let’s join together in solidarity at our synagogues and sing and pray for the peace of Jerusalem and for a healing peace in Pittsburgh.

Shabbat Shalom.

Stephen H. Hoffman

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