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 ReformJudaism.org's Facebook page.
Find additional resources here:
Resources for Everyone
Available on ReformJudaism.org, “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":
- "4 Ways to Talk to Teens after the Pittsburgh Shooting" provides guidance for educators, clergy, and parents alike as they seek to talk with their teens about this tragedy.
- "Don't Avoid Talking to Your Kids about the Pittsburgh Shooting", shared by the Forward from Sivan Zakai, PhD, also shares concrete and helpful advice for parents
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:
- The Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) shares a number of beautiful prayers of healing and guidance for clergy and educators. Download the PDF to print in whole or in part, dependent on your needs.
- Download these liturgical resources for "Solidarity Shabbat," designated by all of the North American streams of Judaism for this weekend, November 2nd - 3rd.
- As noted, additional prayer resources are available in “Jewish Resources for Coping with Acts of Terror,” including a four-part liturgy from Reform Jewish poet and liturgist Alden Solovy. He also wrote this "Prayer for the Tree of Life Synagogue," an acrostic to be read communally or individually.
- Also included in that roundup is "Song for Healing: Music to Listen to After Tragedy," a playlist of songs, both Jewish and otherwise, that Cantor Rosalie Boxt compiled after the Pittsburgh shooting to be used in gatherings of healing and hope for all faiths who want to stand together against violence and hate.
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:
- Michelle Shapiro Abraham, the URJ's director of learning and innovation for youth, shares resources that may be of use to Jewish educators as they determine how to best support the children and families in their community.
- Anne Berman-Waldorf, president of the Association of Reform Jewish Educators, shares what her congregation is doing to open religious school on Sunday morning. She addresses safety concerns, as well as how to create a space for parents to process their own concerns.
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.
- "Safety and Security Resources for Your Congregation" is a document compiling various resources from across the Jewish community, from law enforcement, and beyond. It is available in the Safety and Security group within The Tent.
- On October 31, we hosted a synagogue safety and security webinar in conjunction with the Anti-Defamation League and the Secure Community Network. A recording of that webinar is available in The Tent.
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:
- "Urge Congress to Take Immediate Action to Stop Gun Violence": Initially created after the school shooting in Parkland, FL, this action alert asks Congress to enact eight policy proposals, all of which would improve public safety, prevent gun violence, and save lives.
- "Urge Congress and the Administration to Condemn Anti-Semitism, White supremacy, and Bigotry": Anti-Semitism, white supremacy, and other forms of bigotry have all risen dramatically in the U.S. in recent years. This action alert asks our elected officials to visibly and consistently act to delegitimize anti-Semitism, white supremacy, and other forms of bigotry.
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.