The shooting on Oct. 27, 2018, at the Tree of Life building in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, impacted me in ways that I never expected. The feelings of shock, grief and vulnerability left a mark on me that I still feel today, and I’ve spoken to enough people to know that I am not alone in this.
As I approached the 10/27 commemoration last year, I held out hope that 2020 would provide a significant step forward on the journey of healing. Instead we were stunned by the pandemic, economic collapse and racial divide. Where one crisis ended, the next began.
As I watched the headlines over the past few months reflect growing instances of death, depression and despair, I’ve recognized that this will not be a year of healing. This will be, and has already become, a year of new challenges for all of us. And while the adversity that we successfully managed in the past can, in some ways, help us to deal with new difficulties, it doesn’t always feel that way.
The second commemoration of the shooting feels different than last year’s commemoration. Last year, I was comforted by a sense of solidarity, community and support along with the sadness and grief. This year, I feel a more urgent need to reconsider my entire healing journey — especially in light of the crises and hardships of the past year. Increasingly, I believe that my personal need for healing cannot be separated from my community’s need for healing. And my community isn’t only struggling with the aftermath of the synagogue shooting.
We are stretched too thin with tragedy and hardship. We should be doing
everything in our power to stem more pain and suffering so that the future holds hope and healing.
There was so much hatred in the violence on Oct. 27, 2018. Hatred toward Jews and hatred toward refugees and immigrants. But this hatred didn’t come out of nowhere, and it didn’t go away on Oct. 28. Our world has seen increasing hostility and contention. People disagreeing over politics, race, public health and more has split families and ended friendships.
These schisms in our society are quickly moving from verbal disagreements to aggressive posturing, criminal conspiracies and acts of violence.
Enough is enough.
We desperately need healing. There is so much in the world that I do not control and cannot change. However, there are still meaningful things that I can do to make a difference.
I can broaden my mind by learning about other people’s perspectives.
I can listen better to my neighbors so there is less strife between people.
I can advocate for communities that have experienced hate-filled trauma.
I can welcome collaborative spaces for people to share their ideas and inspiration.
I can help others who aren’t as fortunate as me.
I can reject the notion that there is an “us” and a “them.” There’s just a “we.”
At this two-year mark of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, I invite you to join me in finding ways to make our world a healthier place to heal, for all of us. As we have said so many times, we are stronger together. JN
Jordan Golin is president and CEO of Jewish Family and Community Services of Pittsburgh.