This week has been particularly hard for me, as I know it has been for others.
This past Saturday, eleven innocent people were killed at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania after a gunman entered the sanctuary and fired bullets at people who were observing Shabbat. It saddens me to say that yet another heinous act involving gun-violence has been committed in this country. I am almost equally disheartened by the fact that the government has failed to enact legislation to put an end to this national epidemic.
As an American Jew, I grew up in a synagogue for the entirety of my life, a place which I consider my second home.It has become so real to me that what happened in Pittsburgh could have taken place anywhere, even at my synagogue back home. I can’t imagine what it must be like for the people who lost family, friends and community members.
It is tragic to think that antisemitism is still so prominent in our society. It is tragic to know that there are people in this country and in the world who have so much hatred toward minority groups that they are willing to put their personal beliefs first at the expense of innocent lives. I am not only speaking for the Jewish people when I say that these crimes against humanity are inexcusable, and this cannot continue.
This evil act, however, cannot be a reason for us to be afraid or shy away from the cause. We need to unite as people and tell the world that we cannot be silenced. Our voices need to be heard, and our message must be clear: we will not tolerate antisemitism, racism or prejudice of any kind in this country, and it is completely unacceptable for people to commit crimes against any group of people, no matter what.
In the past decade there have been too many shootings, and too little done to put an end to the violence. Well, the violence ends here. It is our responsibility to do everything we are capable of to put an end to this injustice. We need to not only rise up and speak up, but to act. This requires a level of participation that we do not have yet, but that I believe we can achieve. We are obligated to talk to our legislators and vote for representatives who will enact the changes that we want to see in our society. It is no longer okay to sit back and watch the government make decisions for us, when we very well know that the decisions being made are not the ones we want to see.
This is a wake up call, and I realize that there is no room for complacency with an issue this serious. It is one thing to think about a solution to a problem, but it’s another to be the solution to that problem. Our time to act is now, and it is up to us to take the initiative so that crimes like this cannot and will not occur.
So for everyone out there, whether you feel a connection or not, it is time to stand up and fight. After all, if we won’t do it, who will?