• Rabbi Anthony Knopf

A Message from Rabbi Knopf In Light of Last Saturday's Tragic Events at the Tree of Life * Or L&


My eyes flow with rivers of tears because of the destruction of my people. — Lamentations 3:48 Dear Friends, I write to you amidst the tragedy suffered by our people after the horrific, murderous attacks in Pittsburgh on Shabbat morning. Like you, I am experiencing many deep emotions at this difficult time. Many of us are feeling fear. Our synagogues and other Jewish centres are places where we want to feel safe. I can assure you that Congregation Beth Ora - along with other synagogues and community buildings - is in touch with CJA about the appropriate measures with regard to security. On a different level, we feel shocked, sickened and saddened by the brutality and evil that was unleashed against our brothers and sisters on Shabbat morning. This, of course, is the appropriate reaction. It is times like this (though we should feel it all the time) that we are reminded of the deep bond that exists between us and every Jew. We should feel pain at the suffering of any human being but, this week, we mourn for our family. The news of the killings reached most of us during Shabbat itself. This Shabbat was designated around the world as a special Shabbat to be kept by Jews of all levels of observance. Along with synagogues in 1400 communities around the world, Beth Ora marked this last Shabbat with special activities and celebrations. Michael Smith spoke movingly at the end of the service about the way in which Shabbat introduces a serenity into our lives, amidst a crazy world. And then the news reached us, rupturing the joy and serenity of the Shabbat spirit. To be a Jew - to be any person living seriously - is to be confronted by contradictions. When we open our eyes, we witness the evil of which humanity is capable. But Jews throughout history who have experienced tragedy, have found the depth of spirit to experience the sublimity of Shabbat which reminds us that, even in a world of evil, beauty and goodness are not extinguished. On a practical level, our response is on three levels: I. Be One With Our Jewish Community We send love and support to the Jewish community of Pittsburgh, our family. We pray for the recovery of those who were injured (including, of course, the police officers who put themselves at risk to save others). This evening at 7:30, the Montreal Jewish community is to gather together for a vigil at Beth Israel Beth Aaron in Cote Saint Luc where we will grieve and reflect together. This is also a time to reinforce our own Jewish commitment and our commitment to our Beth Ora community. Jewish organizations in a number of countries have called on Jewish communities across the world to attend a synagogue this coming Shabbat. At times like this, we should be together. Praying, sharing, being strong together. I encourage all our members to join us this Shabbat to reaffirm our commitment to the Jewish People and to pray for the souls of those who were killed and for the recovery of those injured. II. Give Hope At times like this, we are prone to despair. But, as Rabbi Sacks has often noted, Judaism is the voice of hope in the conversation of mankind. Tragedy has struck and we fear for our people and our world. But, throughout all our ordeals, the Jewish People have affirmed 'Am Yisrael Chai, Od Avinu Chai', 'the People of Israel lives, Our Father in Heaven lives'. We have survived all the horrors of history and continue to live and spread our message to the world. In the aftermath of the evil, a note of hope: A crowdfunding campaign run by US Muslims raised $110,000 for the injured victims and their families. And, in other news, three Israeli judokas were allowed to compete in the United Arab Emirates under the Israeli flag for the first time. Amidst darkness, there is a hope that challenges the instinctive stereotypes that drive us toward suspicion and hostility and intimate our potential for peace and harmony. III. Fight Hate We have witnessed the overwhelming darkness that human beings have brought to the world. Let us now show and share the infinite human capacity to bring light, hope and love into the world. Let us resist the demonisation of the other, whoever the other happens to be. And let us mourn and protest against all the attacks that have been inflicted on those of many faiths while praying in their sacred spaces. At 12:15 PM on Friday, I will be attending an interfaith vigil at Vanier College in memory of the victims. I strongly encourage you to attend. As British Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis reflected: "The more hatred we face, the more relentless our pursuit of the paths of peace will be." Baruch Dayan Haemet. We accept God's inscrutable will. But we also accept His challenge to us to play our part in healing His fractured world. Rabbi Anthony Knopf


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