On Tuesday, November 13, I visited Pittsburgh for my very first time.
Following the tragic and senseless shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue, I attended the Jewish Community Leaders’ Day of Solidarity, among over 100 leaders from across the continent. During the visit, we heard from the FBI Victims Unit, said Kaddish together in the synagogue’s sanctuary, toured the historic Squirrel Hill community, and drew strength from the words of inspiring leaders.
We passed through the part of Pittsburgh that Fred Rogers called home and where the Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood television show was made. We were reminded of the show’s message of love and kindness. From lay leaders to staff members, together we were one. Standing with Pittsburgh. Embracing their community with our love and support.
What really stuck with me was the message from Doron Krakow, President and CEO of JCC Association, on the JCC movement: We are community builders. We are a professional family whose cause is the strengthening of Jewish communal life on this continent. We do our service to this cause in our hometowns each and every working day. But when needed and called upon, we are proud to do that service wherever it is needed most.
Despite leaving Pittsburgh feeling heartbroken and sad, I also felt undeniably proud. Proud that we showed up, proud that we came together, and proud that our movement will keep coming together.
Our mission at the J is to be the hub of Jewish life in our region. The importance of this mission is particularly poignant right now. In trying times, I always consider what the role of the J should be: a place of comfort, a place for deep conversation, a place for sharing. The living room of the community.
So please, talk with me, take a yoga class with me, sing hine ma tov u’manayim with me during ECC Shabbat. Everyone is welcome at the J. Let us come together to defeat hate. It can be done with kindness and with love because we are stronger than hate. Especially together.