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A Word From Our Executive Director

 
On the shooting at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA on October 27, 2018.
 

To my Jewish Federation of the Bluegrass extended family,

My heart is heavy with news of the tragic loss of life in Pittsburgh this past Shabbat. Our Jewish Federation of the Bluegrass Board and Staff send condolences, love and support to the Tree of Life kehillah and all those in Squirrel Hill, and to all those across the nation and globe who are shaken by this event. We also send gratitude to the brave officers of the Pittsburgh Police Department who put themselves in harm’s way in order to apprehend the shooter.


We recognize our own vulnerabilities. It is a scary reality to think that no sacred space is off limits to hatred, that the very places we often seek to pray, to socialize, to mark life cycle events, and to come together as a community could be such obvious and easy targets. We have known that the wave of anti-Semitism was quickly rising on our shores. We have known, and done our best to prepare, each of us – our Jewish communal organizations and spaces—in our own ways. It is no less tragic and terrifying in this reality we face again. As we mourn those lost and pray for those injured at Tree of Life Synagogue, we must remain strong in our belief that our combined voices can make a difference.

Our community grows stronger together each day. The Council of Presidents of our local Jewish organizations meets throughout the year to discuss and strategize ways of bringing us all closer together. We are doing more and more coordinated programming. Our Federation is working to transform itself from within to be a wiser and more strategic partner in uniting our community, in whatever form that may take.

I echo the words of our leaders at Jewish Federation of North America, “We make this sacred and solemn vow that we will stand united and in partnership with our elected officials and good people everywhere to work together towards the day when no community is vulnerable to such attacks. Anti-Semitism and xenophobia are contagions that infect societies and end in tragedy, not only for Jews, but for all humanity. We call upon our neighbors and friends to ACT with us as we bring the full force of our collective system to bear on this tragedy; we will not rest until the last remnant of such hatred is eradicated from our midst.

We send our profound sympathy to the families and friends of those murdered; we pray for the speedy and full healing of the wounded, and comfort for their loved ones. We vow our solidarity and support to our Pittsburgh family. May the memories of the murdered be a blessing, and a clarion call to action for all of us.”

Let us wage peace together against all forms of hate with a common purpose, a shared source of light, to become closer than we ever have before and create a brighter and stronger Jewish future for our children and grandchildren.

With love,

Tamara Ohayon
Executive Director

Jewish Federations of North America Statement on Pittsburgh Shooting

 
JFNA's official statement on the shooting at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA on October 27, 2018.
 
 
To access the statement on JFNA's website, click here.

Statement from Mark Wilf, Chair of the Board, and Jerry Silverman, President & CEO, The Jewish Federations of North America.

With broken hearts, but unbroken resolve, The Jewish Federations of North America join the entire Jewish community and decent people everywhere in expressing grief and outrage at the heinous murder of innocent people at Congregation Etz Chayim, Tree of Life, in Pittsburgh yesterday. The anti-Semitism and xenophobia that led to this unspeakable bloodshed while Jews are engaged in peaceful worship – or anywhere in the world under any circumstances - must be condemned in no uncertain terms by leadership and the general public alike. Hatred and vitriol must have no quarter in any aspect of our country, for they not only contravene the sacred promise of America; they violate the moral and ethical core of our society.

JFNA is proud of the outpouring of support and solidarity from the 147 Jewish Federations and 300 Network communities across North America, as well as from the entirety of communities, organizations, and the State of Israel. We see this as a moment of great unification of purpose. We must use this opportunity to unite our cities, states and nation to ensure that no such tragedies recur in any community of any persuasion. We must tap our outrage to effectuate positive change and safeguards, letting our officials know that we stand ready to work with them to make it so.

The Jewish Federations are deeply grateful to the first responders – several of whom were severely injured – who rushed to the scene to serve and support their community. We salute all law enforcement efforts, at great personal risk, who sought to save lives and preserve order, and the City, State and Federal officials and agencies who stand shoulder to shoulder with our friends and colleagues in Pittsburgh. We know that they and their families share our sadness and concern, and they are our heroes.

We also know that our colleagues at the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, led by our friend and superb CEO, Jeff Finkelstein, and Chair Meryl K. Ainsman, Past Chair Cynthia Shapira and all leadership and participants, are working around the clock to support a bereaved community, even as they grieve themselves. That, too, is what Federation does.

Our Secure Community Network (SCN), as always, is working behind the scenes and without fanfare, to confront terror like this when it happens and to prepare communities with the tools they need to both prevent and cope with such events. SCN immediately deployed assets to support the Federation’s security experts as they deal with this horrible situation.

We make this sacred and solemn vow that we will stand united and in partnership with our elected officials and good people everywhere to work together towards the day when no community is vulnerable to such attacks. Anti-Semitism and xenophobia are contagions that infect societies and end in tragedy, not only for Jews, but for all humanity. We call upon our neighbors and friends to ACT with us as we bring the full force of our collective system to bear on this tragedy; we will not rest until the last remnant of such hatred is eradicated from our midst.

We send our profound sympathy to the families and friends of those murdered; we pray for the speedy and full healing of the wounded, and comfort for their loved ones. We vow our solidarity and support to our Pittsburgh family. May the memories of the murdered be a blessing, and a clarion call to action for all of us.