Dear Friends,

We are shocked and heartbroken by the terrible events of this weekend, in which 11 congregants at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh were murdered on Shabbat simply for being Jewish. We send our deepest condolences to their loved ones.

Humanistic Judaism stands with our Jewish sisters and brothers and all good people everywhere against anti-Semitism, against racism, against violence -- and for the brotherhood and sisterhood of humankind. We will continue to work toward an age when love will overcome.

So where do we go from here, when the anger and fear can leave us feeling so helpless?

Judaism provides a path forward, through community and ritual. Here are some suggestions that we hope you'll find helpful:
  • This coming Shabbat, many congregations throughout our movement and across denominations will hold special services and are expecting major turnouts in solidarity. Even if you are not a regular Shabbat-goer, know that you will be welcomed, and our standing together will send a powerful message to those filled with hatred. The Society for Humanistic Judaism's Board of Directors, already scheduled to hold its semi-annual meeting at the Birmingham Temple, will stand together with the community there.
  • Whether mourning in community or individually, mourn. Here is a Humanistic Mourner's Kaddish from Rabbi Peter Schweitzer, Rabbi Emeritus of the City Congregation of New York:
May the glory of life be extolled. L'chaim.
May the world be blessed with peace, all life hallowed by love and respect. L'chaim.
Let life be blessed, and glorified, exalted and honored. L'chaim.
Though beyond praises, songs, and adorations we may utter, let life be celebrated. L'chaim.
For us, for all Israel, for all people, may the promise and the gift of life come true. L'chaim.
May peace embrace all of us, all Israel, and all the world. L'chaim.
May peace be granted us, we who mourn, and be a comfort to all who are bereaved, and let us say, L'chaim.
Zay-cher tza-dee-keem lee-v'ra-kha . May the memory of good people be for us a blessing.  (Proverbs 10:7)
  • Give tzedakah (charitable contributions fostering justice). When I read that the murderer chose his target community based on their support for HIAS, the Jewish immigration agency, I donated to HIAS. It was HIAS that brought my mother and grandparents to the United States after World War II as refugees. There are many other great organizations working to improve our world as well. And while their website has not yet been updated to address the tragedy, Tree of Life Synagogue is at https://www.tolols.org/.
  • Get involved. Our movement's own social justice initiative, Jews for a Secular Democracy, launched earlier this year to provide a uniquely Jewish voice to counter the growing fundamentalism we're seeing in America. The leader of the ADL wrote in the New York Times that "People of all faiths and ideologies must speak out clearly and forcefully against anti-Semitism, scapegoating and bigotry in our society."

We hope this tragedy will serve as an urgent wake-up call to build a better future for all Americans. Thank you for being a part of our community.
Paul Golin
Executive Director
Society for Humanistic Judaism
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