Standing with Pittsburgh

Dear PAS Family,

To be a Jew is to understand the importance of “showing up.” At daily minyanim, at shiva houses, at s’mahot and at other times, it is by our presence that we signal our commitment to the Jewish people, the Jewish tradition and the Jewish future.

Today I returned from spending a day with the Pittsburgh Jewish community. I attended the funeral service for one of those slain this past Shabbat – the mother of a high school classmate of Debbie’s. I offered words of condolence to the bereaved as well as words of support to law enforcement officials. I visited the social service agencies providing support to the Squirrel Hill community, and I recited kaddish outside the Tree of Life Synagogue. In this moment with more questions than answers, I hope that my “showing up” on behalf of the Park Avenue Synagogue family enabled the Pittsburgh Jewish community to know that they are very much in our collective thoughts and prayers.

Many of us are wondering what we can do. I encourage you to “show up” by supporting the emergency fund established by the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh earmarked for the psychological services, support for families, general services, reconstruction, additional security throughout the community, medical bills, as well as counseling and other services that may prove necessary for victims and first responders during their recovery.

Those who died last Saturday were murdered because they were shul menschen – Jews who simply “showed up” to pray on Shabbat. I can think of no better way for us to honor their memory, comfort each other, and strengthen our resolve than by showing up for services this Shabbat. Multiple organizations have designated this Shabbat as #solidarityshabbat or #showupforshabbat. Your presence in shul will send a message to your family, the broader Jewish community, and the wider world.

Please make a point of opening your Shabbat table to guests, or better yet, set a few extra places so you can invite new friends whom you meet at services! While I will speak on Shabbat morning about the events of this past week, and we will pause on both Friday night and Saturday morning to recall those killed and pray on behalf of those in need of healing, neither service is meant to replicate the memorial service of last Sunday evening. Quite the contrary, the PAS clergy team is committed to leading services that embrace the gift of life, the gift of community and the gift of being Jewish in this day and age – as we do every Shabbat.

May the memory of those killed in Pittsburgh this past week be for a blessing, and may their families be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem. Most of all, may we affirm their legacies by showing up with our own Jewish commitments, this Shabbat and every Shabbat.

B’Shalom and #seeyouinshul,

Rabbi Cosgrove
Rabbi Zuckerman
Rabbi Witkovsky
Cantor Schwartz
Cantor Brook