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I Am Afraid After The Synagogue Shooting in Pittsburgh
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Bella lives in a neighborhood called Squirrel Hill in Pittsburgh. She’s grown up there, lived there her whole life, has her friends and her synagogue there, right near the Tree of Life synagogue, and it had always been a peaceful neighborhood – diverse and accepting – a really nice place to live. There were a lot of Jewish families who lived there and she could hardly remember any anti semitism ever happening around them.
But, on Saturday, October 27th, she slept in late and only woke up when her mom called to her from the other room at around eleven o’clock. She ran in to her Mom’s room and her younger sister was there and they looked awful, pale, afraid and scared. Bella didn’t know what was going on, and her mom would only whisper because she didn’t want Bella’s youngest sister to wake up. But something really, really bad was going on – you could tell from the terrified looks on her Mom and sister.
Her mom asked is she’d looked at her phone yet, if she’d seen or heard any of what was on the news. She’d heard lots of sirens in her half sleep, but they didn’t wake her – what was going on? Her mom sat her down and told her that there had been a mass shooting at a temple – the Tree of Life synagogue right there in squirrel hill.
Bella gasped and sat down hard. She was so scared, afraid, shaking and crying. She was just in shock that something like this had happened, in their neighborhood, at a synagogue that was practically right next to the one she attended. Also, the fact that it was all because of their religion, all because they were Jewish, and this scared Bella too – the ant-semitism, and all these shootings taking place everywhere.
What made the tragedy even worse was the fact that it was Shabbat, the holiest day of the week for the Jewish people — all they were doing was praying — and that morning the Tree of Life synagogue was having a baby naming for a new baby just born into their community, a special and festive and happy occasion. And an evil man full of hate and anti semitism came into their place of worship and shot and killed 11 people, including police and security guards.
When Bella and her friends returned to their religious school, hebrew school, so many of them were on edge, scared, and couldn’t quite put into words how awful and vulnerable it made them feel. Why was there anti semitism, or hate of any kind? Why couldn’t people coexist without hatred and gun violence?
After they had started their school day they had a special morning prayer service and they invited the congregation from the Tree of Life synagogue to join them. There were so many people there, mourning and praying, holding hands and supporting each other – praying for peace, and love, and for the souls of the those who passed to ascend. And they chanted and sang words of power, that they were strong and that they would not be afraid.
The Pittsburgh synagogue shooting has effected jews all over the United States and the world, and all people who enjoy feeling safe and free to worship how they choose under any religion they choose. Hopefully the families affected by this tragedy will be able to feel one day that those they lost did not die in vain and that they re-awakened the need for peace, and love, and light across the entire world.
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