In the Wake of Tragedy: Resources for Coping after the Pittsburgh Synagogue Shootings

October 27, 2018the Union for Reform Judaism

Saturday, Oct. 27 marked one of the darkest days in American Jewish history. All of us are hurting as we try to make sense of the horrific and deadly attack on Tree Of Life - Or L'Simcha Congregation in Pittsburgh.

Writes Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the URJ, in his statement after today’s shootings

The slaughter of our brothers and sisters praying in their holy synagogue this Shabbat in Pittsburgh breaks our collective heart.  

The murders took place during a prayer service in the Tree of Life congregation where, like synagogues all around the world, they were reading from Genesis recounting how Abraham welcomed perfect strangers into his tent. How painful and ironic that we live in a time when we have to temper our loving welcome of strangers as we protect our communities from violence and hate.

Sadly, we once again find ourselves sharing resources to help congregations through this terrible time. As congregations consider how to process the Pittsburgh attacks in their own community (including how to talk to religious school students about it), we want to share some resources to help you in that challenging responsibility.

The Reform and Conservative movement hosted  "Songs for All of Us: After Pittsburgh," a  Facebook Live event on Tuesday, Oct. 30, featuring music, prayer, healing, and community. Watch that recording on's Facebook page.

Find additional resources here:

Resources for Everyone

Available on, “Jewish Resources for Coping with Acts of Terror” is the Reform Movement’s ongoing listing of evergreen resources to be used in the wake of tragedy. This document includes: resources for parents and educators, resources for prayer, and resources for action. This piece will continue to be updated on an ongoing basis, during this incident and others.

Resources for Parents

Many of the parents in our congregations are struggling with how to discuss the Tree of Life shooting with their younger children and are looking for guidance about what to, and not to, say. In addition to the resources shared in "Jewish resources for Coping with Acts of Terror":

Resources for Clergy

We've rounded up a number of prayers that may be of use to clergy who are planning vigils, services, and other acts of remembrance. In addition: 

Resources for Educators

As Jewish educators consider how to support their teachers, as well as the children and families in their care, the following information may be helpful:

Resources for Safety and Security

As congregational leaders evaluate their synagogues’ safety and security procedures, we share two resources that may be helpful in your planning processes.

Resources for Taking Action

The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism shares two action alerts to help you easily contact your members of Congress on issues related to gun violence prevention:

The compilation of these resources has been a partnership of the Union for Reform Judaism, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the Association of Reform Jewish Educators, and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, NFTY – The Reform Jewish Youth Movement, and the National Association for Temple Administration. 

We will continue to update this post as additional resources and information become available. 

Have something to say about this post? Join the conversation in The Tent, the social network for congregational leaders of the Reform Movement. You can also tweet us or tell us how you feel on Facebook.

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