Tree of Life — First We Grieve. Then We Organize.
On Saturday morning, as people gathered for Shabbat services in the Tree of Life Synagogue, a gunman opened fire to the words “all Jews must die.” He killed eleven people and injured many more. It is believed to be the most violent attack on Jews in our nation’s history. How do we show up right now in Revolutionary Love? First we grieve. Then we organize.
First, send a message of love or a prayer to Tree of Life.
We will make sure that your words are delivered in person to the families and survivors.
Then, sign up to take our love to the polls on November 6th and #VoteTogether.
Now more than ever, our votes are our voice in the face of vitriol and violence. We are going to #VoteWithLove.
To our Jewish sisters, brothers, and siblings: We mourn with you. We share your outrage. We are breathing with you. We will not leave your side.
This massacre was the result of a climate of hate, bigotry, and white nationalist fervor that threatens many of us — Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, Black people, Latinx people, Indigenous people, immigrants, refugees, and queer and trans people. A few days ago, a gunman killed two Black people, Vickie Lee Jones and Maurice E. Stallard, at a grocery store in Louisville after first trying to enter a Black church. In a time when the words and policies of our current President and administration fan the flames of hate every day, our response must be two-fold: We must grieve together, then we must organize together, starting with showing up at the polls to #votetogether to elect candidates who will help us turn the tide of hate.
To all who feel helpless right now: Hate on this scale feels like looking into the abyss. But we are not powerless. As a Sikh activist, I will never forget looking into the caskets of the six people killed in the mass shooting in the Sikh gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin in 2012 — and seeing the faces of my own family. I will also never forget the thousands of people who showed up to grieve with our community. Long after the media trucks left, many of you followed our lead and helped us fight for and win policy change. We honored the dead by rising up in revolutionary love. That’s what we are going to do now, following the lead of Jewish prophetic voices like Stosh Cotler of Bend the Arc and Rabbi Sharon Brous of IKAR who call us to courage.
To the gunman and all who seek to break us with their hate: You think you can scare us. We will not be scared. You think you can intimidate us into silence. We will not be silenced. You think you can make us hate you. We refuse to hate you, because we refuse to become you. No matter what you do, we are going to labor in love. My one-minute video message is here.
If people in your life are hurting right now and need these messages of love and solidarity and action, please share this message with them. Let us make one another brave.
– Valarie + Amy, Elizabeth, and the Revolutionary Love Fellows
Write a message of love and support or a prayer to the families and survivors of the shooting. In the wake of the mass shootings in Charleston and Oak Creek, we worked with Auburn Seminary to collect tens of thousands of letters and prayers of support, which were then bound and delivered in person to the survivors and families. In Oak Creek, the books are still preserved in the gurdwara’s library. Long after the media trucks leave, these physical embodiments of solidarity show the community we will not leave their side. Click below to write your message. And attend a vigil happening near you.
Sign up to #VoteTogether on November 6th. We are working to get out the vote and encouraging people to #VoteTogether with our sister organization LOVEARMY. Now is the time to elect leaders who fight hate in all forms. In the lead up to the election, Jewish leaders have asked us to wear a torn black ribbon to show solidarity in the wake of the shooting and hold our elected leaders accountable. Click below to find your polling place, join voting parties happening all over the country, and stay together after the election so that we don’t lose our momentum.
Rabbi Sharon Brous at the Tree of Life vigil in Los Angeles:
“What do we do with this grief? This newfound sense of vulnerability? What do we do with the realization that yes—even here, where Jews have achieved unprecedented political, social and financial prominence—even here, we are other. We are targets of hatred and violence.
After four little girls were murdered in 16th street Baptist church in Birmingham, Dr. King said: We must be concerned not merely about who murdered them, but about the system, the way of life, the philosophy which produced the murderer.
Dr. King was right then. And that message is as powerful, urgent and true today.
The trigger was pulled by one gunman, but what is the system, the way of life, the philosophy that produced the terrorist who rampaged through a Pittsburgh synagogue yesterday morning? We know anti-Semitism is on the rise in this country—the ADL indicates that the last two years have seen a spike in incidents from harassment to bomb threats and vandalism.
Over the past three years, America has turned from a place with a constant but quiet undercurrent of anti-Semitism to a place in which anti-Semitism is public, unabashed, and condoned from the highest offices… Pittsburgh did not happen in a vacuum—it was the inevitable outcome of racialized hatred and anti-Semitism being fed, fueled and funded by those with a political agenda that literally puts our lives on the line.
Today we stand not only as a Jewish community, but alongside our multifaith allies and partners, because we know that Tree of Life now joins the sad and sorry list of sacred spaces that have borne witness to massacre in America, alongside the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in Oak Creek, Emanuel AME in Charleston, First Baptist in Sutherland Springs and others.
And we know that the spike in anti-Semitism in America today is part of a broader cultural trend of hatred and demonization many minority communities are facing, whether they be Jews, Muslims, Latinos, Blacks, Sikhs, LGBTQ folks, immigrants, refugees or asylum seekers.
Our multifaith partners stand with us. And we stand with them.
Arm in arm, side by side, reclaiming—through our tears and our conviction—an America that treats every one of us with love, respect, and dignity.
Our hearts are broken. Our sense of safety has been shattered.
And even as we struggle to hold the enormity of this tragedy, even as we grieve, we must be clear-headed and unequivocal in naming and condemning the disease of hatred that has permeated the culture of this nation, and the fanatical obsession with guns that has transformed it from hateful to deadly.
We send love and strength to the Jewish community of Pittsburgh—our family. Zikhronam livrakha—may the memories of those who perished reverberate in this world as a blessing for many years to come, and may the outpouring of support from around the world somehow bring comfort and consolation to those whose hearts have been shattered.” — Rabbi Sharon Brous, IKAR