Reconstructing Judaism and the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association send our deepest condolences and wishes of refu’ah shlaymah — full and complete healing — to all who were affected by the shooting at Chabad of Poway, Calif. We are keenly aware that the shooting happened not only on Shabbat, the Jewish day of rest, and the eighth day of Passover, the Jewish celebration of liberation from oppression, but also on the sixth month anniversary of the terrible shooting in Pittsburgh. We echo and amplify words from Pittsburgh’s Reconstructionist community Dor Hadash, who convened at Tree of Life until October 27, and who reached out to the Chabad community to offer comfort. They wrote: “Our resolve to end hatred and to build a worldwide community of resilience and healing is ever strengthened.”
This has been an escalating year of murderous hate crimes against religious and ethnic minorities in countries across the globe. In each incident, the shooters are fueled by and make references to the previous ones. We are seeing how social media — and, in the US, easy access to semi-automatic weapons — is contributing to the shattering of a centuries-old consensus that all individuals could believe whatever they wanted as long as no harm was done to others. Much harm is being done — to individuals who are killed or injured while at prayer in their houses of sanctuary, to their families who are devastated, to a sense of safety and security that some of us have felt.
We are deeply inspired by the clarity and resolve of our friends in Pittsburgh. Though we may feel helpless or hopeless, we must turn away from despair and toward action. We can each and all take actions to forcefully promote and enact our values at this volatile moment. We can and must put forward a muscular vision of what non-fundamentalist religion looks like. We can and do model how to be deeply particularistic and committed to the Jewish future, and how at the same time to be deeply universalist, and to care about the well-being of our friends and neighbors from other faiths. We must turn inward to ensure that we are adequately secure. And at the same time, we must take care that we also remain oriented to a larger vision of a redeemed and resilient world.
May the Holy One comfort all who need comforting, heal all who need healing and bolster us all to work toward healing and an end to hatred.