Sunday, October 27, 2018 /
Cheshvan 18, 5779
We write this letter with the heaviest of hearts. As many of you know, an anti-Semitic neo-Nazi gunman walked into Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania this morning as congregants gathered for Shabbat services and a bris. He opened fire in the sanctuary, murdering 11 people and wounding four more.
We have gathered as a Jewish community and wept and grieved when these abominable shootings victimized our Muslim, Christian, Sikh, and Hindu siblings. We gather now to mourn the dead in our Jewish community. We especially condemn those acts of terror in sacred places that are supposed to be safe.
This violence is terrifying for all of us, including our children. With that in mind, we are gathering resources for parents and kids and will make it available as soon as we have it. We’re also in contact with Tree of Life and will share with you what we learn and how we can support their community through this devastation.
In these painful moments, we are in touch with local law enforcement to provide extra security. We are also reviewing our security protocol in light of today's horrific violence. And we remain a community of radical hospitality, refusing to let acts of hatred and violence shake our core commitments.
Tree of Life: This is what we call our Torah. We will continue to seek wisdom from our ancient Torah, a Torah that holds at its center the mitzvah- the commandment- to love one another, to care for one another, to respect each other, and to build a community of safety and human dignity.
We lift our hearts in our hands and send prayers for tenderness and peace,
Rabbis Michael Adam Latz, Arielle Lekach-Rosenberg, & Debra Rappaport
Monday, October 29, 2018 / Cheshvan 20, 5779
Dear Shir Tikvah:
Our hearts continue to vibrate from the horrific shooting at Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh this past Shabbes morning. Many of you have reached out asking how you can help the Tree of Life community as they mourn their dead and tend to the survivors of this attack. Please see the message below from the Jewish Federation of Pittsburgh and give as generously as you are able.
With prayers for peace amidst this agonizing grief,
Rabbis Latz, Lekach-Rosenberg, & Rappaport
Our hearts are broken. We join in mourning the victims of the senseless tragedy in Pittsburgh. We also pray for healing for those who were injured and for all those among us whose pain is beyond measure. Now is the time that we will come together as a community with our brothers and sisters in Pittsburgh to try and bring comfort to those in need of healing and support. We will provide them the strength and resilience they need in the days ahead.
All money collected for Our Victims of Terror Fund is earmarked for the psychological services, support for families, general services, reconstruction, additional security throughout the community, medical bills for all those involved, as well as counseling and other services that may prove necessary in the future. The religious and day schools of Greater Pittsburgh will also most likely require additional resources to help our youth process this tragic episode. We at Minneapolis Jewish Federation thank you for your support.
B'Yachad,Minneapolis Jewish Federation
Rabbi Akiva taught: “This is a great principle of the Torah: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’ (Lev. 19:18). Therefore, one should not say, ‘Since I am scorned, I should scorn my neighbor as well; since I have been cursed, I will curse my neighbor as well.’ Rabbi Tanchuma taught, ‘If you act this way, realize who it is that you are willing to have humiliated - The one who was made in the image of God.’ [Bereshit Rabbah 24:7]
As our federal government threatens the bodies and lives of our transgender and gender nonconforming siblings, we rise together in defiance of this politics of hate. This president and his administration show no respect for the sanctity and worth of each life- human lives created in the Divine image. We at Shir Tikvah join Rabbi Akiva and declare: We must love each other and work together for a vision of justice, for a world of dignity.
Shir Tikvah is blessed to have trans and gender nonconforming leaders at the heart of our community: leading davening, teaching our children, singing in choir, serving on the board, showing up at all services and events. Shir Tikvah is a space where our young people express the multiplicity and complexity of their genders, growing in a space where they are eldered by trans people and recognized and affirmed by adults and peers. We as a community have a long way to go to be as fully welcoming and accessible to people of all gender identities as we need to be, but we are so grateful for the ways that this community stretches, embraces, and learns. We refuse to submit to politics which undermine the safety and dignity of our members, and commit to following trans leaders in resisting this rising hate.
For those who are afraid, who are hurting, who are exhausted, we are here for you. We see you, we believe you, and we are with you. Please be in touch to schedule a time to sit with one of us as you need support. Reach out to each other, check in on each other, and love each other fiercely. We are stronger when we care for one another, when we support each other, visibly and publicly. If you’re looking for resources or referrals, if you are struggling or know someone else who is struggling, you can also reach out to J-Pride organizer and Shir Tikvah member Jayce Koester.
In collaboration with J-Pride, Shir Tikvah is organizing a weekend of ritual, learning and remembrance the weekend of November 16-18, in connection with Trans Day of Remembrance. We invite you to come together for a series of gatherings, including:
Friday night November 16th, a community of trans Shir Tikvah leaders will hold a musical Shabbat service at 6:30pm to honor the 22 trans people murdered during 2018. We’ll honor the trans voices that are here with us, and mourn for the voices lost to violence. All of the names of our siblings killed over the course of the year will be read, Kaddish will be recited, and leaders will share reflections and kavanot to lead us into prayer.
On Trans Day of Remembrance, Tuesday November 20th, the They/Them Project will premiere at the St.Paul JCC. Join us at 6:00 PM to hear from members of the community, participants in the project and exhibit creator Brent Dundore. The They/Them Project is an ongoing podcast and photo series, giving gender nonconforming individuals a platform to be seen and heard, while educating all who listen about gender diversity.
We are not strangers to the appalling, vile, and violent rhetoric spewing forth from this White House. But we are a resilient, hopeful people who take Rabbi Akiva’s words to heart and bring them into the world: we love our neighbors, we love ourselves, and extend our arms extra wide as we thank God for our trans community.
In love and justice,
Rabbis Michael Adam Latz, Debra Rappaport, & Arielle Lekach-Rosenberg