The tragedy this weekend

Dear AJWS Community,

I am writing to connect with you in the wake of this tragic weekend, marred by yet another deadly attack on American Jews worshipping in synagogues. Last time it was in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh. This time it was across the country in Poway, a town just north of San Diego. Last time, it was a multi-denominational synagogue. This time, it was a Chabad shul. In both cases, an anti-Semitic murderer killed and wounded human beings—simply because they are Jews.

Like me, I am sure that you are feeling a mix of emotions—sadness, anger and determination.

I am feeling profound sadness because of the tragic, cold blooded murder of Lori Gilbert Kaye, a woman, wife and mother.  Lori was worshipping on the very last day of Passover, the holiday that marks our historical journey from slavery to freedom. Her final act echoes the defiance of Jews who have resisted oppression through the millennia, as she stood her ground to protect her beloved rabbi.

I am feeling anger at the rise in hatred, bigotry and extreme nationalism throughout our country and the world. As acts like this proliferate, America’s very promise of equality and justice for all is under assault. I am especially angry because just one day before the shooting, the president of the United States once again defended the neo-Nazis who marched and killed in Charlottesville in August 2017.

I am feeling determined to continue our common work of tikkun olam—to repair the world. Together, we must fight to make sure that the essential dignity of every person of every background is protected and respected, and that it is understood to be the indispensable ingredient for the kind of world we want to live in. A world where everyone is safe to live, love and worship as they wish, without having to fear for their lives.

Repairing our community, country and the world is sacred work for us, as Jews, which we can only accomplish in partnership with our friends and allies of every background.

As you are a member of the AJWS community, I know you understand instinctively that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” as the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King sagely taught. That’s why we understand that the fight for human rights—for Jews and for people of every background in the United States and around the world—is one fight.

While I am heartbroken by this weekend’s tragedy, I am more committed than ever to fighting violence motivated by anti-Semitism, racism, Islamophobia and bigotry of all kinds. Rooted in Jewish values, we must continue to support the most vulnerable and oppressed people on earth today and advance a vision of the world in which people of diverse backgrounds, including our people, live in dignity and respect.

Thank you for joining together with our community and others to heal our broken country and our broken world.  As you know in your heart, that is our work—at this tragic moment and always.

With gratitude for all you do,

Robert Bank