Statement regarding the attack on the Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

South African Association of Progressive Rabbis

“For death had come through our windows into our strongholds” (Jeremiah 9:20)

Together with all the Jewish people, together with all good and decent people, we feel great pain over the attack on the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. We grieve with the families of those who were murdered and send our wishes of recovery to those who were wounded.

This hate crime was performed by an individual, but it has a wider context, aiming to spread fear and distress, to keep the different groups who build society apart and to try reinstall an old order.

Here in South Africa, we remember well what the outcomes are of such an ideology which tries to keep society in constant dread, refusing to recognize our obvious shared human heritage. Clearly, we are far away from perfection, but South Africa had long moved away from those notions. In a way, the whole dispensation of the new South Africa is intended to ensure that our different communities could come together to live in equality, prosperity and peace.

Our answer to this act of hate will be fortifying our efforts to reach out to one another. We call upon all educators, religious and community leaders to invest in creating an atmosphere of respect, where all voices are heard and appreciated and where diversity is acknowledged as a source of strength.

Though our heart is full of sadness today, we put our trust in The Eternal One, whose wisdom is beyond our grasp. We pray that out of this hard moment shall come forth maturity and understanding, fulfilling the word of the prophet: “They shall not hurt nor harm My holy mountain, for the earth shall be filled with knowing The Eternal, as the waters cover the sea.” (Isaiah 9:11)

Rabbi Sa’ar Shaked, South African Association of Progressive Rabbis