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Rabbi Faith Joy Dantowitz
Stand Together Against Hate: A Candlelight Vigil for Pittsburgh
Organized by the Livingston Clergy Association
Presbyterian Church of Livingston
October 30, 2018

Tree of Life in Pittsburgh

Dear God, I stand here in pain. My heart hurts for the Tree of Life synagogue, for the families and friends of the 11 precious Jews murdered while praying in their synagogue. They were doing what I was doing–praying on Shabbat in their house of worship. As a Jew, I am in pain.

Saturday morning’s Torah portion began with Abraham and Sarah welcoming guests into their wide-open tent. This value of welcoming the stranger is one of the reasons Tree of Life was chosen by the gunman. He saw that they were among many synagogues across the country participating in HIAS’ Welcome Refugee Campaign. HIAS, a Jewish organization was founded to help Jewish refugees. It continues to help refugees today, not because the refugees are Jewish, but because we are Jews. We welcome others. We were taught to love the stranger for we have been strangers.

Today our country is filled with Fear, fear of the other, being stoked at all levels, from the top on down. The Torah begins with God creating the world through words. Words matter. Words of hate must be stamped out. Words of hate can lead to evil action.

FEAR can be an acronym for FACE EVERYTHING AND RISE.
Today we need to face the entire picture of what confronts us.
This massacre on Saturday happened in an atmosphere of increased xenophobia, racism, and gun violence.

How will we rise. In Jewish mourning after shiva, we rise.
When we see and notice acts of love—people who reach out to one another, those who want to make the world a better place, we help one another bring healing.

We need to show up for one another.
V’ahavta et hager. Love the stranger. V’ahavta l’reyacha kamocha. Love your neighbor, Black, Brown, White, Gay, Straight, Trans, Christian, SIkh, Muslim, Hindu or Jewish, as yourself:

Words of kindness, words of love, can lead to acts of kindness.
This gathering is an evening to mourn; to remember; to stand in solidarity and to commit to act against hate—in how we speak to others, the actions we take at home, in public, in the voting booth and online.

God–source of comfort and life
Give us the strength to choose hope over fear
Remind us each day that acts of love are stronger than hate
Help us to lift our hands and open our hearts one another

This act of antisemitism was an attack on Jews and on the soul of our country.
Today, I as a Jew, a rabbi, mourn but will also rise. I am grateful for the support of my neighbors. This Shabbat I invite everyone to show up for services. We shall not be afraid, we will face everything and rise.

photos courtesy Jerry Siskind, West Essex Tribune

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