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Group of people gathered at a gravesite in a cemetery

In the wake of the horrific murders last Saturday in Pittsburgh of 11 Jews at prayer, congregations and communities across North America have gathered in sanctuaries and in parks and on street corners to mourn the victims – sharing the names of the dead as they share their own grief. Even for those who did not know the victims, the slaughter is a dagger in the heart, for each life taken so violently strikes at us all.

This is the essence of Jewish mourning: no one grieves alone.

The service of Yizkor – remembrance – originated in Europe over time as a communal response to...

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Jeff Erlanger in his electric wheelchair reading Torah from the pulpit

Of all the b’nei mitzvah I’ve led in my 57 years as a rabbi, the one that has remained most vivid in my memory is the bar mitzvah of Jeffrey Erlanger, the boy who gained national attention when he appeared as a guest on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and more recently in the film, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor.”

I was the rabbi at Temple Beth El...

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Hand holding two candles in the darkness as if at a candlelight vigil

Hosted by the Union for Reform Judaism and the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, you're invited to join us for "Songs for All of Us: After Pittsburgh," a Facebook Live event featuring music, prayer, healing, and community following Saturday's attack on Tree of Life - Or L'Simcha Congregation in Pittsburgh.  

What: A musical service of prayer and healing When: Tuesday, Oct. 30, at 8:30pm EDTWhere:'s Facebook pageWhy: To come together, as a...

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Teen wearing Converse and holding backpack against a brick wall

On Saturday night, I asked my 15-year-old son how he was doing. Was he scared? Overwhelmed?

He shared that he was sad for the people who died and their loved ones. That it was truly awful. “But Mom,” he said, “this is my normal. I was born after Columbine and 9/11. All the horrible things that your generation thought could never happen are just normal for my generation. Terrible people shoot Black people in churches, and LGBTQ people in nightclubs, and kids sitting in classrooms at school, and now Jews in synagogues.”

As I listened to him, my heart broke – but I couldn’t...

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Caution tape across greenery

The horrific and deadly attack on Tree of Life – Or L’Simcha Congregation in Pittsburgh marks one of the darkest days in American Jewish history. All of us are hurting as we try to come to terms with these tragic murders.

Writes Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, in his statement after today’s shootings,

The slaughter...

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