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How do we Remember?

10/27/2022 07:42:49 AM


Rabbi Jeffrey Myers

Today marks four years since the massacre at Tree of Life.  What is the right way to remember?  Is there a right way?  While this was an unprecedented act of antisemitism on American soil, sadly it was just another horrific date in Jewish history.  But within the 4,000 year history of my people there is a rich tradition of how we respond. That has been the source of our response in Pittsburgh. It is unusual for the Jewish community to commemorate both a solar calendar date and a lunar calendar date, which is the 18th of Heshvan and occurs on the Shabbat of November 12 this year, but I think that this dual observance is a reflection of the reality that this was not merely an attack upon the Jewish community. It was an attack upon Pittsburgh, and there are countless people not of the Jewish faith who feel the pain as well. That is why there is a public commemoration on October 27, and a more subdued, private commemoration on the yahrtzeit date. But how to remember?

A yahrtzeit includes lighting a memorial candle and reciting Mourner’s Kaddish at a minyan. What should a secular date include? I think that we model the finest in Jewish values through the activities that we promote: Torah study and deeds of Lovingkindness.  Learning has always been an important Jewish value, and studying texts in memory of someone has been a constant for 2,000 years. The performance of mitzvot in memory of someone is also an important Jewish value and standard. We offer opportunities for both. 

If you pause for a moment to ponder this, you come away understanding what being Jewish is about. It would be very easy, and understandable, for people to respond with extreme words and actions, but we do not. Our moral compass demands that we honor the memories of our eleven victims with actions that reflect decency and humanity.  We embrace each other, support each other, and express gratitude to so many who have stood with us these past four years. It eases the pain just a bit to know that there are so many who care and model compassion.

Today is not a day to hurl invectives at the latest antisemitic postings, because they were present yesterday and will be there tomorrow. Today is the day to remember eleven victims with dignity, to console and comfort each other, and to model morality in an immoral world.


We lovingly recall


Joyce Fienberg

Richard Gottfried

Rose Mallinger

Jerry Rabinowitz

Cecil Rosenthal

David Rosenthal

Bernice Simon

Sylvan Simon

Daniel Stein

Melvin Wax

Irving Younger


May their memories always be for a blessing.

Fri, December 9 2022 15 Kislev 5783