Moving forward in the wake of the Squirrel Hill shooting

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It hasn’t been easy trying to start this article. I must have written pages of introductions but no matter how they start they all end the same, with bullets perpetually ripping through the hearts of every Jewish community.

On Oct. 27, 2018 as Rabbi Jeffrey Meyers spoke to his congregation, with the light of God on his lips, a man with darkness in his soul and evil in his heart began to shoot into the congregation. 

By the time the authorities had arrived, the shooter had killed 11 people and had injured six others. 

Why? Because they were Jews. They were guilty of nothing else other than being true to themselves. 

However, as the gunman (whom I will not dignify with a name) sits in custody, the real question is what happens now? How do we patch the wounds in us all?

 As a Jew who’s lived in Squirrel Hill, this is truly something that hits very close to home, and it should for everyone simply because we’re human. We share the same earth, lie under the same stars and breathe the same air. 

Yet somehow, this numbing divide of virtual space distances us from the ability to mourn with one another: to be able to capture the darkness and transform it into something other than a post on Facebook.

 And though the sentiment is incredible, in today’s darkening world we need action, because what happens next is our choice.

To me, the choice is clear; in the face of darkness, light a fire by spreading acts of goodness and kindness. 

Utilize the unique qualities in every single one of us, be proud of our differences, because only through them can we add to this world. 

We each have the potential to move mountains. I mean we’ve almost made it to Mars—how crazy would it be to open the door for someone, give charity or simply smile at someone? 

This tragedy cannot simply be forgotten, so in memory and for life, we cannot sit for hatred and bigotry. So let’s stand for love and kindness and make the world brighter every day.

There’s a quote by Maimonides that says: “One should see the world and see himself as a scale with an equal balance of good and evil. When he does one good deed the scale is tipped to the good — he and the world is saved. When he does one evil deed the scale is tipped to the bad — he and the world are destroyed.”

Every day we have the ability to save the world by adding something from ourselves to it. In this way we start repairing the world, and as such, the victims of this attack will be able to live on in every act of kindness we achieve.

We all must be proud of who we are and wear our differences (in my case, a Kippah) with pride regardless of anti-Semitism, racism, islamophobia, and so on; because it’s by the very notion that we have different roles in life that allow us to truly live and love each other, by helping one another. 

This tragedy cannot simply be forgotten, so in memory and for life, we cannot sit for hatred and bigotry. So let’s stand for love and kindness and make the world brighter every day. 

Thus, by spreading morality and having a responsibility to one another, we can stop the next shooter, not by our sword but by their will. 

As a final note, while it is easy to become depressed and dejected from events like these, and justifiably so, there is a time for mourning and a time for action. 

As such, I want to say to every Jew, that while this is definitely an attack on the Jewish people as a whole, and one might feel hurt and scared to be Jewish: by standing strong and proud as a Jew in light of these events means the attacker has failed. It means that as a nation the light shines bright, and no matter what we stand together proud of our heritage and with the promise that when we said “never again” we meant it. 

So stand proud of who you are for those who died because of who they were.


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