Our greatest fears realized…

In Diversity, Faith, Holocaust, Home, Love, Prayer, Queens University, Uncategorized by Judy Schindler15 Comments

This morning in Pittsburgh, on Shabbat, our greatest fears became a reality when a shooter armed with an AK-47 entered the synagogue of the Tree of Life congregation as three services were simultaneously in progress, including a bris welcoming an 8-day child into the covenant; a bris so important it could happen even on Shabbat.

Our greatest fears realized.

Fears so terrorizing that we, as Jews, often never utter them out loud, though we all think and feel them in our hearts and souls.

“What if during our prayers, during our simchas (our celebrations), during our Sabbath morning Torah study …”

When our news media revealed the horror so many of us fear a wave of nausea entered our bodies. Tears streamed down our faces. A cry came forth from our souls like the wail of a shofar calling to the world.

Make this hatred stop!

The cruel and painful irony of it all. As Jews in sanctuaries across our globe this morning read and heard of the open doors that Abraham and Sarah had on all four sides of their tent, Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue had open doors through which sadly a life-denying and God-denying White Supremacist walked.

In Abraham and Sarah’s case, the guests brought blessings.

In Pittsburgh’s case, the hateful attacker brought bullets.

Our greatest fears realized.

Now, we as a Jewish people, as Americans citizens, and as citizens of the world, are challenged, yet again, to not allow such horror to close our doors.

Let all of us face this challenge by committing to opening doors and taking this vow:

* to counter race supremacy with a commitment to equality for all

* to counter hate with random and continuous acts of love

* to counter religious extremism with pluralism

* to respond to ignorance with wisdom

* to counter violence with peace.

The Stan Greenspon Center for Peace and Social Justice at Queens University of Charlotte sends our condolences to the community of Pittsburgh and its Jewish community, especially, and its Tree of Life Synagogue, specifically. We weep for you and with you and will work tirelessly to counter the hate that kills people and threatens democracy.

May the memories of those who died be a blessing.

May that blessing be expressed through actions we take in honor of their lives.

And may we never allow our worst fears — both spoken and unspoken — to conquer our faith, our courage, and our love.

[Photo by T. Chick McClure]


  1. Thank you, Judy, for capturing this tragic moment in such a profound way.

  2. My heart is so heavy, and my tears keep coming. Thank you so much for putting into words what I could not. I pray my Grandchildren will someday have a kinder and safer world than we have today.

  3. Thank you for expressing through your words the most appropriate response to today’s horrific act of terrorism in Pittsburgh. I am continually grateful for your voice and leadership in Charlotte, as well as the entire Jewish community.

  4. The raging methodology of hate has been initiated and authorized……the long arm of mayhem has been perpetrated on society……it is disgraceful that some in our society have encouraged and authorized these despicable demonstrations
    of anger and sheer terror…….to the lambs comes the slaughter of the innocents….I am so very sorry…I am so fearful for
    those I love and want to protect…….courage, determination, and faith, as it is stated above, may help us to sustain over selves and to remember that there are still good people in our world.. sk

  5. Your words ring with wisdom, sadness, and, hope. My prayers are with the Jewish community.

  6. My emotions are raw, strong, numbing and yet knowing this tragedy was almost predictable. So sad. No where yet have I heard or read the word Freedom the last 24 hours. We came to America for freedom of worship. Everyone here is an immigrant, except Native Americans. The anesthetization of those who damn the victims, the political rants…”they should have had security’s…have been raising their anti-Semitic voices for years. We need to be clear about justice, what is criminal, & punishment for those who are against FREEDOM FOR ALL to worship in America.

  7. Judy, The vows you are suggesting in your article could not be more appropriate. I don´t believe we are witnessing this same noble reaction from our public figures. Your words are inspiring and give us cause for positive action in the vein you prescribe. Well done. You uplift all communities in our area.

    I´ll finish with one quote I believe is apt for what we are witnessing in this past week;
    “ If you can make people believe absurdities, you can make them commit atrocities” Voltaire

    1. Author

      Thank you for all you do to bring justice to our community. You have so much wisdom.

  8. This is a call to the best possible kind of arms–open arms! Thank you Rabbi Schindler.

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