Instead of posting the same thoughts and feelings and political ideas that we all share, I wanted to write something more positive. What can people do in the wake of the tragedy in Pittsburgh this weekend to try to make the world a little better? I would like to offer a few suggestions. First, whether you are Jewish or not, go to morning services at a nearby synagogue this coming Saturday morning! (Or depending on how the particular synagogue rolls, on Friday evening). You will like it, and your neighbors will appreciate the support. Sometimes when people talk about the Jews’ most important innovation they talk about monotheism, but I would give the Sabbath as my answer. If you are looking for suggestions in the Boston area, let me know and I can give you some pointers. Update: There is now a hashtag for this idea organized by the AJC: #ShowUpForShabbat.
Second, do something to support refugees. This shooting was like a punch in the gut to American Jews, but two things stand out in my mind that make it particularly awful. Worst of all, a family was celebrating their newborn son’s bris at the synagogue. Imagine having such a joyous occasion turn in a moment into a scene of horror and tragedy. But I also have read that the murderer had been motivated by the fact that the Jewish community and many Jewish communal organizations work to support refugees. How could it be otherwise, given that most American Jews descend from refugees or economic migrants in the not-too-distant past, and given our collective memory of the exodus from Egypt? “You shall not oppress a stranger, since you know the feelings of the stranger, having yourselves been strangers in the land of Egypt.” Send a message to people like this murderer that supporting refugees who need help isn’t some strange, Jewish, globalist idea for rootless cosmopolitans, but is just the right thing to do.
Third, please do not link this tragedy to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Here is an example of what not to do—a comment from Baroness Tonge, a member of the House of Lords who was suspended from the Liberal Democratic Party for her awful ideas:
Finally, consider attending one of the vigils that are going to be held all over the country. If you are in Boston, the vigil is at 2 p.m. Sunday on the Common.