Dear Members of Congregation B'nai Torah,
I am traveling with 7 high school students to the Religious Action Center in Washington DC for a weekend of learning, advocacy, leadership and lobbying on Capitol Hill. I am saddened and dismayed by the news of 49 Muslim worshipers who were brutally murdered in the midst of their Friday Sabbath prayers earlier today in their mosque in New Zealand.
Once again, we find ourselves asking why? And how? These violent acts are occurring too often, but we must never become immune to them or to the victims...because we know that each life lost represents the loss of an entire world.
As we approach Shabbat, we think of our Muslim co-religionists and stand together with their families in empathy and grief. As a Jewish community we are all too familiar with tragedy and we know the comfort that comes from community.
May these human beings, killed today in cold blood in the midst of their prayers, and those who were injured, be remembered for blessing. And may we dedicate and rededicate ourselves to working on behalf of peace and justice for all.
In response to the tragic murder of 49 worshipers at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement on behalf of the Union for Reform Judaism, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, and the wider Reform Movement institutions:
"The massacre in Christchurch pierces our hearts to the very core. To murder people in the midst of worship is the epitome of evil. As we mourn this senseless loss of life, we hold our Muslim family in our hearts and commit to stand with them during this painful time - including by visibly and vocally showing up in solidarity.
"This violence against minority communities, fueled by anti-Muslim and white supremacist rhetoric, is not new. This horrendous attack on a place of worship represents the darkest forces of humanity, which have been emboldened by a global rise of a grotesque ideology demonizing those who are different.
"In Ecclesiastes, we are taught: 'if one attacks, two can stand up to him. A threefold cord is not readily broken!' (4:12). Liberation from the plague of bigotry will require moral people of all faiths, races, and cultures to bind together against hateful forces that seek to sow division. We must say, with one voice, that white supremacy, xenophobia, and bigotry have no place in society."
Rabbi Lisa S. Eiduson