Insights from Interfaith Youth Core on Violence at the Tree of Life Synagogue


A Message from IFYC 

On Saturday morning, a hate-filled gunman entered the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA and killed eleven people as they celebrated Shabbat. Many others were gravely wounded, including four police officers. Since then, this act of anti-Semitic terrorism has been described as the worst attack on the Jewish community in U.S. history. 

Elsewhere in America this weekend, two African-Americans were killed merely for the color of their skin after a failed church shooting in Kentucky, and a Florida man sat in custody accused of sending at least thirty-one bombs to people with whom he disagreed politically. 

IFYC extends our deepest sympathy to those people and communities devastated by these recent acts. We stand with them in solidarity and in grief. 

Terrorism, racism, and anti-Semitism are outrageous. Yet they persist today in 2018. What is to be done? Who will do it? 

To those who want to do something: this is a time for interfaith leaders to act. 

  • Interfaith leaders see the other side, defending The Other and standing up to ensure their safety and right to thrive. 

  • Interfaith leaders work to educate others about the inspiring aspects of different faiths and worldviews. 

  • Interfaith leaders convene those in their communities, finding shared values and common concerns as a basis for working together. 

  • Interfaith leaders build and strengthen relationships across the kinds of lines that others refuse to cross through dialogue, service, and, sometimes, by sharing in others' grief or fear. 

Interfaith leaders build where others destroy. Today, we ask you to practice your interfaith leadership wherever you are. To help you, we've compiled a list of resources from IFYC and other organizations committed to pluralism to kickstart your outreach, guide your conversations and activities, and help you educate yourself, your friends, and your neighbors. 

In the coming days and weeks, we hope you will join us and others across the U.S. in acts of interfaith leadership big or small. 

Perhaps, as you face these challenges, you might contemplate this passage from the Jewish Mishnah: 

"It is not your responsibility to finish the work, but neither are you free to refrain from it." -Pirkei Avot 

List of Resources, Guides, and Other Media:

Interfaith Leadership in Times of Crisis - a discussion guide 

Responding to Hateful Incidents on Campus - constructive ways to respond to destructive acts 

Texts on the Shared Value of Hospitality - a workshop guide 

Identity: Moving Through the World in Challenging Times - from the Common Knowledge podcast 

Intersections: Race, Religion, and the Conversation after Charleston - from the Common Knowledge podcast 

Interfaith Cooperation in Judaism - from the Common Knowledge podcast 

The Case for Pluralism in a Divided Democracy - from the Common Knowledge podcast 

Incoming Jewish Students - findings from the Interfaith Diversity Experiences & Attitudes Longitudinal Survey (IDEALS) 

Elections and Interfaith Leadership Skills - a guide for campus and beyond 

Hillel International's list of vigils and remembrances for Pittsburgh happening on campuses across the U.S. 

Facing History and Ourselves offers excellent resources related to anti-Semitism, racism, and religious intolerance. 

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has published resources to help educators and parents discuss the Pittsburgh attack. 

Teaching Tolerance provides educators with powerful classroom resources focusing on religious and other forms of diversity in the U.S. 

We will be adding to this list as we learn more. Visit IFYC's Facebook and Twitterstreams for more information, including vigils and other events being held across the country. We also encourage you to follow our friends at HillelFacing History and OurselvesTeaching Tolerance, and the Anti-Defamation League for their continuing updates and opportunities. 

Thank you, 

The IFYC Team