Last Saturday morning, during a peaceful Shabbat service at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life * Or L’Simcha Congregation, 11 innocent lives were lost.
A man opened fire inside the Synagogue yelling, “All Jews must die.” Gunman Robert Bowers was armed with an assault rifle and at least three handguns, attacking for 20 minutes straight. The deadly assault killed 11 people and injured six, four of whom were police officers. The anti-Semitic shooting was deemed the deadliest attack on members of the American Jewish community in the history of our country.
The victims ranged in age from 54 to 97. Learn about each person’s story.
The Pittsburgh synagogue massacre is an excruciating reminder of the persistence of anti-Semitism. An attack on one community is an attack on all Americans. We must join together to promote a zero-tolerance policy for anti-Semitism, and all forms of hatred.
As we once again grapple with another mass shooting in our country, here’s how you can support the victims and their families, and contribute to combating all acts of anti-Semitism, racism, genocide and bigotry; making our world the safe and humane place it needs to be.
Be an Upstander
An “upstander” is a person who has chosen to make a difference in the world by speaking out against injustice and creating positive change.
History is about choices; the choices that each of us make will in turn, help change the course of history.
- Act: speak up, stand up and VOTE!
- If you see something, say something; condemn all acts of hatred.
- Ask questions, don’t remain indifferent.
- Empathize, open your worldview.
- Think critically, don’t blindly conform.
- “To remain silent and indifferent is the greatest sin of all.” –Elie Wiesel
Support the Victims of the Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting
- Write a message for the victims and their families
- If you’re in the Pittsburgh area, donate blood at a Vitalant donation center, a nonprofit blood bank. Schedule an appointment online now!
- Donate funds to directly support the victims and Tree of Life synagogue: Donate to the GoFundMe campaign set up to help the survivors and victims’ families, as well as repair physical damages to the Synagogue; donate directly to Tree of Life Congregation
Support Jewish Organizations
- Donate to the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh‘s Victims of Terror Fund
- Donate to JUF’s Pittsburgh fundraiser, Jewish Federation Pittsburgh Solidarity Fund — Chicago’s Jewish Federation is collecting donations to fund psychological services, support for families, medical bills for all those involved, reconstruction, and security.
- Donate to the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh — staffed by Red Cross Disaster Mental Health professionals, a Family Assistance Center will be open at the JCC in Squirrel Hill to support community members in need of support and assistance.
- Donate to HIAS, an international nonprofit dedicated to supporting all refugees. Anti-Semitic gunman Robert Bowers negatively referenced the organization on his social media accounts prior to the massacre.
Attend a Vigil
Join your fellow neighbors, of all faiths, as communities across the globe join together to express their grief for the victims and hope for a better tomorrow.
Upcoming local gatherings:
- Solidarity Shabbat — the first Shabbat following the synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, Nov. 2-3, Jews and non-Jews alike will gather at synagogues across North America for #SolidarityShabbat. See JUF’s guide to find a synagogue near you. Launched by the global Jewish advocacy organization, American Jewish Committee, the #ShowUpForShabbat campaign encourages all Americans, of all faiths, to visit a synagogue this weekend, showing that strength and love are stronger than hate.
- The Anti-Defamation League has partnered with organizations across the country to bring communities together in remembrance of the members of Tree of Life Synagogue. Find a vigil or gathering near you. Show your support and add your name to ADL’s digital vigil.
Observe in a moment of silence and take some time to reflect in whatever way feels right.
Last year, anti-Semitic incidents reported in the United States rose 60 percent, according to the ADL. The spike was due in part to the significant increase in incidents on school grounds and college campuses.
“While answers feel elusive, we must fight this evil together,” Fritzie Fritzshall and Susan Abrams of the Illinois Holocaust Museum wrote in a letter after the shooting. “We must redouble our efforts as a community, nation and world to find our common ground and recognize our common humanity. We must hold accountable those who speak of the ‘other’ and disparage groups of our fellow human beings.”
The mission of the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center is to preserve “the legacy of the Holocaust by honoring the memories of those who were lost and by teaching universal lessons that combat hatred, prejudice and indifference.” Plan a visit to the museum and experience the mission through their interactive exhibits and upcoming events.
More organizations to support:
- Support and join the Anti-Defamation League in their work “monitoring, tracking and responding to anti-Semitism in the United States.”
- Learn more about combating anti-Semitism with the World Jewish Congress
Help make guns less accessible and our public spaces safer by joining the fight alongside these organizations:
- Every Town for Gun Safety represents more than 4 million mayors, moms, cops, teachers, survivors, gun owners, and everyday Americans who have come together to make their own communities safer, by fighting for the changes that will save lives.
- The Courage To Fight Gun Violence was started by U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and others after she was shot during a visit with constituents at a mall in her district.
- San Francisco’s Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence offers legal assistance to people trying to make their communities safer from gun violence.
- Mom’s Demand Action For Gun Sense In America is similar to MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Drivers), and was founded in response to the Sandy Hook school shooting by one single mother, and quickly spread. Chapters are now in every state.
- Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence is the oldest and largest statewide organization committed to changing laws and behavior in order to reduce the devastating effect firearms have on our society.
- Brady Campaign to End Gun Violence has a goal of cutting U.S. gun deaths in half by 2025 through background checks and national discourse.
Lobby your legislators to support common sense gun reform legislation
- Here’s all you need to know about the best ways to tell Congress gun laws need to change.
- Grab a pen and paper and write a letter; speak up! Find for your senator’s contact information here and your representative’s information here.
- If you live in Illinois, here’s an easy way to reach your officials using a simple online form.
Understand your candidates’ position on gun control by using these resources:
As we approach the 2018 midterm elections on Tuesday, do your research!
If you haven’t already turned in your ballot, on Nov. 6, you must #WalkoutToVote. Join March For Our Lives in putting an end to gun violence and exercise your right to vote; have your voice heard. “If we can elect morally just leaders, we can put an end to gun violence in America.” Lyft will be making the commute a little easier by providing 50 percent off all rides to the polls.
Help to improve our mental health public safety net by supporting these organizations and initiatives:
- The Trevor Project: is the leading national organization providing a free and confidential crisis intervention and suicide prevention hotline for LGBTQ youth, 24/7.
- NAMI: The National Alliance on Mental Illness, is the U.S.’s largest grassroots mental health organization that provides many services, including a helpline and educational programs to help people struggling with mental health in our nation.
- NoStigmas: This is a global peer-to-peer support network committed to eliminating the stigma that surrounds mental illness and creating more sources of mental health support.
- The Rush Hospital West Side Total Health Collaborative: Rush and other medical institutions put mental health professionals in schools on Chicago’s underserved West Side.
- Text-A-Tip Hotline: Mental health professionals respond to anonymously sent tips within minutes of receipt to help anyone suffering with mental illness. Started in collaboration with schools, clergy, public safety officials, and parents in Lake Forest, this program has spread across the Chicago region and the country.
- The Cure Violence program: treats violence as a heath issue, taking precautionary measures to detect and stop violence in its tracks, before it happens. The Cure Violence Health Model uses an epidemic control method in reducing violence. The Model is implemented in urban areas around the world and ranked number ten on the list of top global NGOs. Join the movement to reduce violence and see the different ways you can get involved with Cure Violence.
- San Francisco Mental Health Education Funds: The SFMHEF provides services throughout San Francisco to help people suffering from mental illness.
- Mental Health Association of San Francisco: The MHASF is a nonprofit that provides mental health education, advocacy, research and services for people in San Francisco.
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