In Response to the Tree of Life Shooting...

This past Shabbat, something unimaginable took place. Eleven Jewish people lost their lives in their own synagogue. That whole day as I watched the news, I just felt so disheartened that the most deadly antisemitic attack in the United States history happened in 2018. So many Jewish families, including mine, came to this country as refugees in an escape of antisemitism. This should not be happening in a country that honors religious liberty.

In my Jewish elementary school, we always talked about bringing “shalom” or peace to the world, sang a prayer called Mi Shebeirach, a prayer for those in need of healing, at synagogue, and brought SOVA and Tzedakah (food and money) for those in need every Shabbat. The Jewish community taught me from a young age to be kind and to help others. Perhaps when I was younger, I didn’t appreciate my Jewish education. My family is not religious, mostly as a result of the communist Soviet Union they were brought up in where there was no religious observance. Whenever we go to synagogue, though, I can tell how happy my mother and grandma are to be a part of such an amazing community. They may not know the words to the prayers, but I can see how much they enjoy themselves.  My parents gave me and my siblings a Jewish elementary education because they wanted us to learn about our religion in ways they never were able to experience. I was even the first person in my family to have a Bat Mitzvah. Now as I get older, I am so thankful to my parents for making Jewish education a priority and to live in a country where I have religious freedom.

Although the shooting draws attention to the hateful antisemitism that still exists in this country, the aftermath of the shooting has shown that the United States will not stand for this. Seeing not just my Jewish peers but my non-Jewish peers change their profile photo to have the “Together Against Antisemitism” frame shows me that this is not a fight that just Jewish people face. Although it’s a small gesture, it really does have a powerful effect when I scroll through my Facebook feed and see so many standing against antisemitism. The shooting was not only an attack on the Jewish community, but it was also an attack on this country’s right to freedom of religion. Jewish or not, if you are not upset about this, you should be.

I ask the media to stop showing the perpetrator's face. Every time I go on to a news website, I see this disgusting man’s face. He does not deserve to have his name repeated or have his face shown. That is putting our attention in the wrong direction. Instead, we need to honor the victims who lost their lives in such a horrific manner. We need to pray for the healing of those injured and the families affected by this. We need to thank the officers who put themselves in harm’s way to stop the shooter from taking even more lives. Although the news outlets will eventually turn to another story to cover, I will never forget this horrific hate crime, and neither should you.


In remembrance:


Joyce Fienberg, 75

Richard Gottfried, 65

Rose Mallinger, 97

Jerry Rabinowitz, 66

Cecil Rosenthal, 59

David Rosenthal, 54

Bernice Simon, 84

Sylvan Simon, 86

Daniel Stein, 71

Melvin Wax, 88

Irving Younger, 69


Also, if you would like to donate to help the congregation of the Tree of Life: