If you’re struggling to make sense of the horrific violence of today’s Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, a few thoughts:
Judaism has never really been a “thoughts and prayers” kind of religion. It’s an action religion. Judaism teaches that we are all judged by the way we behave towards our fellow human brings, and the things we do while on this earth to make the world better.
So with that in mind, here are a few actions you can take today:
- Vote. Wherever you live, vote against the candidates who are cozying up to white supremacists or using the politics of division and fear. Vote for the candidates who believe in inclusion.
- Donate to HIAS, a fantastic organization doing great work to help refugees from all over the globe. Today’s shooter called them out as part of his motive for targeting the Jewish community (because they help resettle Muslim refugees), which is all the more reason to support them. I used to work with them on fundraising and I can attest that they’re the real deal. (Here in Montreal, you can also donate to Ometz, which encompasses JIAS, our Canadian equivalent.)
- Demonstrate and protest. There will be Havdalah vigils tonight in dozens of cities. But more than vigils, show up to rallies against racism, to protests against xenophobic policies and laws (like the one proposed by the Legault government to ban religious symbols in the public service), and to demonstrations that denounce violence.
- Stand up and loudly denounce racism, xenophobia, and white supremacy wherever and whenever you encounter it, whether you feel personally affected or not. If you see someone being attacked, don’t stand idly by and let it happen.
- Help someone. Sponsor a refugee. Volunteer at an organization to help migrants. Give your time and your compassion.
The Jewish concept of “tikun olam” means “improving the world”. Everyone, regardless of belief or background, has an obligation to take part. So ask yourself: What have I done today to make the world a little bit better?