In a horrifying moment, joy was shattered.
The members of Tree of Life Congregation came together in uplifting prayer Saturday morning in what they thought was the safest of places — their synagogue in the Squirrel Hill section of Pittsburgh.
It was Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath, and on top of that, there was a baby-naming ceremony to celebrate the start of life.
A gunman shouting anti-Semitic slurs and carrying an assault rifle and several handguns killed at least 11 people and wounded six more.
And once again, our nation was aghast as we tried to grasp a tragedy that is unfathomable, tried to find a way past immediate, deep hopelessness and fear, the notion that America has become a place where we hesitate to open our doors to welcome strangers.
The suspect, Robert Bowers, apparently had a social media account riddled with ugly sentiments against Jews, including one from Saturday morning specifically targeting the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, a nonprofit organization that provides humanitarian aid for refugees. That hatred isn’t new, and it isn’t, unfortunately, limited to Bowers.
But Saturday’s attack was one of the deadliest ever against the Jewish community in the United States. It was at least the third mass shooting in a house of worship in three years in this nation.
There is a tenet in Judaism called tikkun olam, literally “repair the world.” It’s about social justice and helping others. But now, as we try to grasp how vile thoughts can lead to heinous actions, it can be difficult to think that repairing the world is even possible. Somehow, we must never allow ourselves to despair to the point when we can’t somehow triumph over evil and hatred.
But for now, just as the Tree of Life congregants came together to celebrate Saturday, we, and all people of good will, come together to mourn with them. — The editorial board