Rabbi Levine wrote the following letter to the congregation yesterday, as part of our ongoing observance of the one-year anniversary of the Tree of Life shooting in Pittsburgh, PA in 2018.
As we approach the anniversary of the Tree of Life shooting in Pittsburgh, we recognize that we must not allow hatred and intolerance to grow unchecked. However, sometimes it seems hard to think about what we, as individuals and as a community, can do.
What we can do is to engage, to practice our faith together and to participate in the activities that define us as Jews and are part of the mission of our congregation. Last year, hours after the shooting, we observed Havdalah together and hundreds came to Mitzvah Day, including many who made Stars of Hope which were brought to Pittsburgh.
I invite you to join me in the next few days as we worship together, showcase our values of tikkun olam through Mitzvah Weekend, October 25–27, and delve more deeply into the important topic of anti-Semitism at a special event One Year After Pittsburgh on October 30.
On Friday, October 25 at 6:00 PM, as we begin Mitzvah Weekend celebrations, we will also participate in #ShowUpforShabbat, joining numerous congregations honoring the first yahrzeit of those who died in the Tree of Life shooting.
Mitzvah Weekend continues on Saturday, October 26 at 6:00 PM with Havdalah and restocking the pantry at the West Side Campaign Against Hunger.
On Sunday, October 27 at 9:00 AM, Cantor Garfein and Diana Blackwell, a key partner from Backpack Buddies, will join me for our first-ever Sunday morning Mitzvah Day kickoff ritual in the main sanctuary. We will honor the Pittsburgh victims with a moment of silence and find strength together in the power of community. A full day of mitzvot—learning, social action, blood donation, and more!—follows the kickoff at CRS and around New York City. There is still plenty of space so please sign up here!
On Wednesday, October 30 at 6:30 PM please attend our special event “One Year After Pittsburgh: The State of Anti-Semitism in our Country Today.” This evening will feature Evan Bernstein, Regional Director, ADL New York/New Jersey and John Miller, NYPD Deputy Commission of Intelligence & Counterterrorism. CRS congregant Kai Falkenberg, General Counsel at G/O Media and Lecturer in Law at Columbia Law School, will moderate what will be an important and thought-provoking discussion. The evening is free. You can RSVP here.
I believe that, together, we can become stronger than hate. As we proceed into a new Jewish year our mitzvot empower us, through action and learning, to forge a brighter, safer future. We hope you will participate in these important and enriching opportunities.
Rabbi Robert N. Levine