Local synagogue leaders respond to Pittsburgh shooting
After Saturday’s mass shooting at the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh, Penn., local Jewish communities around Montgomery County are shaken up as well.
At Chabad of The Woodlands along Budde Road, Rabbi Mendel Blecher said that the slaying of 11 Jewish worshippers was undoubtedly the most horrific anti-Semitic attack in America to date.
Blecher hosted a memorial service for the victims this past Sunday night at their congregation.
“I encouraged everyone who came to the memorial service to add in acts of goodness and kindness, to seek and spread light and do away with darkness by showing an extra degree of care and sensitivity to others,” Blecher said.
Jewish history, Blecher added, teaches the congregation to look forward and become stronger — to not let evil dictate their lives.
In response to the act of domestic terrorism in Pittsburgh’s heavily populated Jewish neighborhood of Squirrel Hill, Blecher said his synagogue is evaluating security vulnerabilities and protocols. He also taught a class this week on how tragedies affect their faith, one that he said many people attended.
The other synagogue in The Woodlands, Congregation Beth Shalom along Shadowbend Place, has also felt ripple effects of the tragedy.
Ellen Karas, immediate past president Congregation Beth Shalom, said that neighbors and other faith groups have expressed their condolences to their Jewish community with flowers and hugs.
“We are all shocked when violence occurs in places of peace. It greatly affects people. I’m very touched by the outreach of so many who have expressed their concerns,” Karas said.
Their congregation is planning to host a service called Solidarity Shabbat at 7:30 p.m. this Friday, Nov. 2. It’s a service of mourning and healing in the wake of Saturday’s shooting.
Karas said the service is also for neighbors and members of other faiths who want to show their support for Jewish congregations. Similar services have been happening across the country in remembrance of those who were killed and wounded in the attack.
“We’re happy to join, and to open up our congregation to Jews and non-Jews to honor that idea,” Karas said.