October 27, 2018
Dear Friends,
   We are overcome with grief and heartbreak.
   This morning as many of us were beginning our day, an antisemitic gunman entered the Tree of Life – Or L’Simcha Congregation in Pittsburgh and murdered 11 congregants. Once again, a fellow citizen armed with hatred and an arsenal has sown destruction in a house of worship. Once again, antisemitism has reared its ugly head, this time in a community very much like our own.
   Our Jewish tradition teaches us to keep quiet in a house of mourning as rarely can words ever express a way to comfort those grieving. Our presence is sometimes the most effective way to communicate to mourners that we are holding them in our hearts. Words cannot express how sad, angry, frustrated, and bereaved we are in this moment. We will take the time we need to mourn and then we will rise up. We will reach out to our fellow congregation and offer to help in any way possible. We will continue to gather for Shabbat services and Torah Study and all the other ways each of us participate in the Jewish life of Congregation Beth Israel.
   We are, and will remain, vigilant in protecting our community’s freedom to worship, study and celebrate Judaism. We work constantly to align our security measures with best practices, and we are routinely in touch with law enforcement.

   Tomorrow morning Kesher will gather for tefillah at 10 a.m. before classes begin. You are welcome to attend this fun and brief service, and then stay for an opportunity for us to gather together and say kaddish, as we hold each other and focus our deepest sympathies to our siblings in Pittsburgh.
   Author of life, grant a perfect rest to the victims of this shooting. Today we add Pittsburgh to the list of places where innocents have been murdered and wounded just because they are Jewish. Grant the survivors of this horror comfort and consolation and the endurance to survive and rebuild. May You give us the courage to move forward in life, to be proud and not afraid of who we are, and may You also give us the strength to work towards creating a world where no one is a victim of gun violence and hate.
   May the memories of those murdered be a blessing.
   In sorrow,
Rabbi Joshua Samuels
Steven Garfinkle, President