From the Desk of Rabbi Yosef David in Solidarity with the Pittsburgh Jewish Community

Like all of you who heard the news, I was shocked by Saturday’s horrific tragedy in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where innocent community members who wanted to enjoy a peaceful Shabbat and celebrate a Jewish baby’s birth were senselessly injured and murdered. Where heroic police officers who stood up against the hate filled monster were injured. As Jews, we are one nation with one heart and stand together.  What pains you, causes pain to me, and we must not remain silent or be a bystander.
We mourn with the Jewish community and we pray for our injured sisters and brothers, for their families, for the Pittsburgh community, and for Pittsburgh’s police officers who are, God-willing, recovering from their injuries.
As we wipe our tears and rub our eyes from disbelief, There are a few thoughts that have been percolating in my heart and mind that I would like to share.

What do Anti-Semites want?  What is our answer?

Many answer that we need to fight back, we need to defend ourselves, learn how to use and acquire firearms etc. Stricter gun control etc.
Some answer that a stronger government response is needed, others say that we need to fight antisemitism through education.  Others focus on the need to stop the divisiveness, the negative speech and rhetoric both from the individual as well as the political leadership. The bashing of people, religions, and race must stop!
I believe that there are many answers to what should or could be done and all are true. But I want to focus on what I believe is a unique Jewish approach.
Anti-Semites (from Haman to Hitler) hate Jewish exceptionalism. They hate Jewish celebration of life and meaning and the teaching and inspiring of virtue and Godliness and goodness.
They can’t accept that we are chosen for the mission to be a light unto the nations and to bring the
Torah — “The instruction book for living” to the world and make it a better place.

The Talmud tells us that antisemitism started at the the revelation of Sinai. That at Sinai, a Sina (Hatred) came to the world. That when the Jewish people received their mission of being the chosen people to bring God’s instructions and light to the world, some embraced them but others hated them.

What is our answer?
Celebrate life. Show the value of a human being, promote the education of Judaism and what it stands for. Live like the people who were chosen to light up the world with the Almighty’s message that every human being is created in the image of God, that everyone of us has a mission to do good and teach others.
Let’s not cower and run from the synagogue or the message of what Jewish exceptionalism looks like.  Let’s make sure, this week, that every synagogue is filled to the brim. Let’s make sure we reach out to others with goodness and kindness. And let’s do it in memory and honor of these precious brothers and sisters who can no longer do it themselves. Let’s do more and beat the anti-Semite into submission that the message of goodness and Godliness will triumph and the Torah and its instructions for living will reign supreme and be the Tree of Life for all that grasp it!
Sincerely,
Rabbi Yosef David
Aish Hatorah of St. Louis
Executive Director