The Lion's Tale

An attack on one is an attack on all: What the Pittsburgh Synagogue attack means for American Jewry and our community

Alex Landy, Copy Editor

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As I turned on the T.V. Saturday to discover what is now believed to be the deadliest attack on American Jews in history, I could only wonder about what the larger implications of the tragic event in Pittsburgh are for Jews in our community and in the United States.

As a proud Jew, I find comfort and strength in my ability to embrace my Jewish roots and connections to our community, state and people, whether in the United States or around the world. When one person carries out such a devastating and hateful attack against our people, we all personally feel their grief, pain and sorrow. And it makes us consider how we to address such a painful event in our history as American Jews.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, 54 percent of the more than 1,500 anti-religious acts perpetrated in the United States in 2016 were motivated by anti-semitism, and no other religious groups in the U.S. had been the victims of more hate crimes. Those numbers should not just frighten our community, but be a stark reminder of the threats against us.

The question, then, is: How do we address this deadly and truly horrific event? I struggled with this question on Saturday, and came to the conclusion that the change we seek must come from within.  We must be willing to act on our own behalf, to stand up for our rights and security, and to protect ourselves. After our period of grief and mourning conclude, in the near future we must take matters into our own hands and intervene without waiting for political leaders to make promising speeches, only to fail to follow through with action.

If there is anything we have learned from the dysfunctional mess that we call Washington, it’s that we cannot trust the motives, words or actions of our so-called leaders to be consistent with our community’s best interests. In that unfortunate, but realistic spirit, it is time to take this existential matter into our own hands; to lead the charge against the ever-pervading hate in America; to be vigilant; to bolster security in our community; to unite around each other during times of both peace and hardship, while also not letting the actions of those who seek to destroy us get in the way of our daily lives and order.

We must find a way to do all of these things in our khilah, our proud and limitless community, so that we do not allow or enable the reprehensible acts of this single terrorist in Pittsburgh and the other catalysts of hate in the world to overcome us. That is the way to move forward, and to keep at the forefront of our minds this unspeakable act, not just in our hearts, thoughts and prayers, but more importantly, in our actions.

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