HUC-JIR Statement on the Tragedy at Tree of Life - Or L'Simcha Synagogue in Pittsburgh - Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
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HUC-JIR Statement on the Tragedy at Tree of Life - Or L'Simcha Synagogue in Pittsburgh

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Saturday, October 27, 2018

The shocking news of the murderous violence that took place at The Tree of Life Synagogue this Shabbat in Pittsburgh exceeds our capacity for words. The scourge of antisemitism which we witnessed last year in Charlottesville has not yet been extinguished in our nation. Not only was the joy of the Shabbat shattered, but the celebration of life marked by a bris – the entrance of a new-born infant into the Covenant of our people – was savagely ruptured.

Tomorrow will be a day of reckoning for the toxicity plaguing our world and how to go about repairing it. Tonight we remember the words of the Shulchan Aruch that state that it may not be possible to comfort mourners in the moment of their rawest grief. Instead, we dwell in the valley of tears, recalling our fallen sisters and brothers who were killed in this horrific tragedy. Tehyenah nafshoteihen tzrurot bi-tzror hahayim – may the souls of those murdered in Pittsburgh today be bound up in the bond of eternal life.

Rabbi David Ellenson

Interim President, Chancellor Emeritus


Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is North America's leading institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates leaders to serve North American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and nonprofit management professionals, and offers graduate programs to scholars and clergy of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR's scholarly resources comprise the renowned Klau Library, The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, museums, research institutes and centers, and academic publications. In partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, HUC-JIR sustains the Reform Movement's congregations and professional and lay leaders. HUC-JIR's campuses invite the community to cultural and educational programs illuminating Jewish heritage and fostering interfaith and multiethnic understanding.