Today we learned of a massacre at the Tree of Life Synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the United States. As we write this, the tragedy claimed the life of eleven people at the synagogue, and included bodily injury to many others as well as to first responders at the scene. This crime delivers a message of hate that is aimed at a whole people, their culture, and their freedom to assemble without fear of harm to practice their beliefs in the sanctity of their own house of worship. It is incontrovertible that the perpetration aimed to seek out these people, entrap them in their sacred space, kill and maim them, and to rupture their sense of safety in the world.
The Jewish people, alongside other peoples who faced genocide, know deeply the experience of historical rupture; today is one of those days when the memory of hate is too present once more.
As Executive Director, the Chair and Chair-Elect of the Board of Trustees of the Parliament of the World’s Religions, we want these friends in Squirrel Hill to know, as we also do for all communities who are targets of hate, that we stand with you. We stand with your families and your communities. We also want you to know, that we believe aberrant hearts and minds are no match for our fullest humanity, expressed in the global impulses of religion to lead lives that are holy, resilient, loving and kind.
In that spirit, we are one with you. You are never alone.
Robert Sellers, Chair
Audrey Kitagawa, Chair-Elect
Larry Greenfield, Executive Director