I walked out of synagogue with my five-year-old yesterday afternoon to find a local (Passaic, NJ) police officer stationed out front. It was then that I learned about the awful tragedy that took the lives of 11 Jewish men in Pittsburgh earlier in the day.

The irony, that I had just freely worshipped on the holiest day of the Jewish week with my youngest child, hit me like a ton of bricks.

The victims had gone to services yesterday with the same aspirations as me.

They came to unite, with three congregations serving God under one roof.

They were celebrating the gift of life, with the naming of a new baby.

They were affirming our sense of purpose, which is what a name ultimately represents. Not to mention our purpose as God’s creatures and servants.

And, in the same vein, I had attended afternoon services for similar reasons: to unite with others in God’s service and teach the next generation the importance of our identity and beliefs.

Same behavior. Completely different results.

What can we do this week, other than share words of comfort and support, to make a positive impact on what is truly a horrible, gut-wrenching situation? I humbly suggest the following:

  1. Stay strong – The victims were targeted because of their Jewish faith. We must stand spiritually strong and not allow others to dictate who we can be and worship. And to all of our American brothers and sisters of different faiths that have rallied behind our community, thank you.
  2. Unify – Remember the importance and power of community. Sometimes, our differences get the better of us. Learn to disagree without being disagreeable. And remember that, at the end of the say, we’re all brothers and created in God’s image.
  3. Give life – Do something that says that you care about those around you, such as charity, acts of kindness, and even a simple greeting.

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