• Rabbi Anthony Knopf

From the Desk - Solidarity Shabbat


Shalom Friends, This difficult week is drawing to a close. At the time of writing, at least three of the Pittsburgh victims have been laid to rest. Jewish law recognizes that the period prior to the burial is one of shock and disorientation. Going forward, there will be the opportunity for reflection on how we can live our lives in ways which promote goodness and fight against the evil of prejudice and violence. But our initial reaction of shock and grief endures at this early stage. By the time you read this, most or all of the victims will have been buried. While our grief remains, Judaism teaches us that the correct way to respond to tragedy is through reflection and commitment to leading better lives. In the coming days and weeks, we should ask ourselves how this Jewish and global tragedy has affected who we are and how we live. Below, please find my humble suggestions of ways in which we can respond at this early stage. I. Pray with your community this Shabbat Last Shabbat, 11 Jews were murdered in a synagogue. On Monday evening, hundreds of Montrealers responded by attending the Beth Israel Beth Aaron synagogue for a vigil to honour the victims. When our people are attacked while in prayer, we respond by coming together in prayer. At times like this, we find comfort in community, in our common devotion to spreading goodness and in turning to our Father in Heaven, the Source of all goodness. Synagogues and communities throughout the world have called on Jews to come together at synagogue this Shabbat. Please make every effort to join us. During the services, we will pray for the victims and for a better world. Let us come together to give a strong message: We are strong together. We are proud of our identity and faith. We are not alone. Reading the descriptions of those who were murdered, it is clear that they were pillars of their communities. Let us respond to this sickening act by reaffirming our own commitment to our Jewish community. II. Take on a Mitzvah Among the many wonderful people supporting the community of Pittsburgh are the Chabad Rabbis, Rebbetzins and staff. They have called for a campaign to affix 1,100 mezuzot in the Pittsburgh region - 100 mezuzot in memory of each victim murdered in the attack. Members of our own community can also join this campaign. If you don't have a mezuzah on your doors, please do so in honour of the victims. Even if you do have a mezuzah on your front door, you can fulfill this mitzvah further by adding a mezuzah in other rooms inside your home. If you already have mezuzot on all doorposts of your home and office, please consider choosing another Mitzvah in their honour. In addition, you can also add your very own condolences note that will be hand-delivered to the families of the victims. III. Prayers and Tzedakah A number of people were wounded in the attack and some of them remain hospitalised. We pray for the refuah shlemah (complete recovery) of Andrea Wedner and Daniel Leger as well as the heroic police officers who put their lives on the line in order to save the lives of members of our community. There are many important causes we can support. Pittsburgh police officer Tim Matson was injured in the line of duty. His brother started this Gofundme page to help cover his routine bills and any expenses needed in his recovery. One of the communities that prayed in the Tree of Life synagogue recently participated in an initiative in support of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, an American nonprofit organization that provides humanitarian aid and assistance to refugees. Two weeks before the attack, the killer posted a link to a list of synagogues participating in that initiative. To make a donation in support of HIAS, please click here. IV. Vanier Interfaith Vigil A silver lining in this dark cloud has been the overwhelming support we have received from different faith groups and political representatives. On Friday, at 12:15 PM, I will be attending an interfaith vigil at Vanier College. I encourage you to join me in this show of cross-communal solidarity. The vigil will be taking place in the central area of the college. Ask security at the main entrance and they will direct you to the vigil. I look forward to seeing many of you this Shabbat. May it be a Shabbat of peace. Rabbi Anthony and Carly Knopf Dovid, Rachelli, Yehuda and Avrami

#Shabbat #tzedakah

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