Standing Shoulder to Shoulder

by Arliene Botnick, October 31, 2018

Baseless hatred – No other words, for me, capture the horrific murders of 11 Jews and the wounding of 6 others on Shabbat, October 27th. Every headline, newscast, twitter feed – all screamed out the atrocities committed by one perpetrator. But we know, though he was the shooter, his world, his supporters applauded his actions.

And, by now, as you are reading this article, the event is no longer on the front page, or the lead item in a broadcast. The next big story has replaced it – perhaps about the weather or Hallowe’en candy that was tampered with, or the difficulty in getting one’s ‘weed’ on time.

But for our Jewish community, for our amazingly supportive multi-faith community right here in Mississauga, and especially for the Jews of Pittsburgh, the murders will not so quickly be forgotten. For the survivors of that tragedy, for those who lost their loved ones, the pain and aching heart will remain. For our wider Interfaith community who have been sending so many messages of support and love, they have offered to stand with us in our sorrow. And for we Solelniks, we have to decide what we do next.

At our school, we had a brief presentation, led by Mark Botnick, who works with the Peel Board on how to deal with such traumatic events when they affect the school children. Mark did an excellent job in assuring our children that they are safe, that we as adults are there to protect them and care for them. Rabbi Pollack sent out information to the congregants about how to address the events if children ask.

At services, we will remember to honour the names of those who were murdered. Their names will be read out and we will mourn with our Pittsburgh community.

But any of event of antisemitism for me, poses the same question, Why – Why the Jews – Why us – We can’t put the blame on Israel. There was no Israel, no Jewish army when the Holocaust took place, or the pogroms in Russia, or the Spanish Inquisition. Antisemitism has a long, long history. Other groups too, must be asking the same question. Why hatred against people of colour, against immigrants, against Moslems, against the gay community. Why hatred at all? The first question that Cain asks of God in the book of Genesis – “Am I my brother’s
keeper?” We know the answer. And until the world learns and understands the answer is yes, that we are one another’s keeper, the continuous possibility of these tragedies reoccurring exists. We cannot live in fear, but we cannot be blasé.

The headlines will change. New news will capture our attention. But 11 innocent people were murdered during a Shabbat service. On Saturday, October 27, 2018, baseless hatred won. Let’s work together with our Jewish community, let’s stand shoulder to shoulder with our multifaith community to stop it from winning again. Let’s look at one another and see that we are all made in God’s image, and hatred has no place in our world.

Keyn Yehi Ratzon
May it be God’s Will.

Filed under: Educator's Message

« Read more articles