Tag Archives: Pittsburgh

Two Years Cannot Dull the Pain of the Pittsburgh Shooting

One of my favorite quotes from Star Wars the following:

“Fear is the path to the dark side…fear leads to anger… anger leads to hate… hate leads to suffering.

Yesterday was the second anniversary of the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. Those were murdered that day (Z”l) because they were Jews.

Unlike the America that my parents and grandparents were born into, my early years were free of antisemitism. I lived in multi-cultural world that respected everyone, regardless of labels or ancestry.

October 27th, 2018 changed all that. It was a slap in the face, a cold reminder that antisemitism is still alive and well in the United States. It has been said that time heals all wounds. But time can never take away the pain of that day.

But even with the heartbreak, there is still hope.

Our people and our faith has been threatened countless time over the millennia. But we are still here and we will always be here.

While we carry on as we always have, the memory of those killed that day will live on forever, in spite of the heartache that comes with that loss.

May their memories be a blessing.

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Filed under Movies, National News, Star Wars

Cut Me Loose: Sin and Salvation After My Ultra-Orthodox Girlhood Book Review

In a perfect world, we would be able to make our own choices and still be loved by our families. But that is not always the case.

Cut Me Loose: Sin and Salvation After My Ultra-Orthodox Girlhood, a memoir by Leah Vincent was published in 2015. Born and raised in the Yeshivish Jewish community in Pittsburgh, her world as a child was bound by a long list of rules of do’s and don’ts. Everything changed at sixteen when her letters to a young man were discovered.

Retribution was swift and cold. Forced to become an outcast to her family, she moved to New York City, where she faced a secular world that was far from the ultra-religious world she knew. As a result, she embarked on a series of sexual and semi-romantic relationships that all ended in disaster. Complicating these “relationships” was her still fierce adherence to the Judaism she was raised in.

This is one of the best memoirs I have ever read. Her journey at times is both difficult and universal. Most, if not all of us, go through changes when we are in our teens and early 20’s. But, we do so within the loving bosom of our families. Ms. Vincent had to go through those changes on her own.

I was stuck by several things while reading this book. The first is that the double standard is one hundred times more powerful in the Yeshivish community than it is in the secular world. The second is that she is a survivor who found her backbone. It would have been easy to crawl back to her parents on hands and knees, begging for forgiveness. But she didn’t. The third and most powerful thing is that the reader does not have to be Jewish to understand or relate to her story. If I was a betting woman, I would wager that there are many from all faiths who for any number of reasons, have walked away from the ultra-religious communities they were raised in.

I absolutely recommend it.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Feminism, Life, New York City

In Spite Of The Hate In This World, There Are Still Good People

The shooting that left 11 people dead in the Tree Of Life Synagogue its Pittsburgh on Saturday morning was a heartbreaking reminder that hate and prejudice still have a place in our society.

But in spite of that hate, there are still people in this world who see past labels and see the person.

Last night, I received a phone call from a former colleague who is Catholic. She expressed her condolences about the shooting. The reaction from my friends (most of whom are not Jewish) on Facebook was nothing but supportive and loving.

Yesterday, there was a story on Mashable that Muslim activists have raised more than $50,000 to help the loved ones of the victims pay for the funerals and to provide financial support to those who are still in the hospital.

Anne Frank lived through and died during the most inhuman period of human history. But even with all of the death, hatred and destruction that was her normal, she never gave up hope about humanity.

I keep my ideals, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.

This weekend was extremely hard for myself and many others. But we got through it because we were wrapped in love and support. While we cannot bring back the 11 people who were murdered on Saturday, we can heal. We can live in peace and we can love one another, in spite of our differences.

We only need to open up our hearts.

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Filed under National News, Politics

The Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting Hits Too Close To Home

This morning started off like any morning for the members of the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. At approximately 10:30 am EST, a gunman walked into the synagogue and killed 8 people with at least 4 more injured in the shooting. He stated the following as a reason for the shooting: All Jews must die.

This shooting hits too close to home for me. Other than attending services on the high holidays (and perhaps for a special occasion), I haven’t attended Saturday morning services regularly since high school. But I come from a Jewish family where attending regular Saturday morning services is a just part of the weekly calendar. I count my blessings that none of my loved ones were in that synagogue, but it also hurts like h*ll.

I am scared, angry and on the verge of tears.  Antisemitism is alive and well in America. The people who were killed were only killed because they are Jewish and happened to attend services at the Tree of Life Synagogue.

This should not be happening in 2018. We should be able to go about our business without being afraid of being killed for who we are. Religious institutions should not need to hire armed guards or security so their members can attend services and feel safe in doing so.

According to news reports, the accused gunmen was found with an AR-15 and a handgun. An AR-15 was also used in the shooting in Las Vegas and Florida.  What will it take for our government to enact reasonable gun control laws? How many will die before we come to our senses?

Of course, you know who sounded Presidential, be we all know that he is part of the problem. His antisemitic dog whistles has allowed those who believe as shooter did that they are right.

This should be classified as a hate crime and if convicted, the shooter should receive the harshest legal penalty possible.

May the memory of those killed be a blessing and may we all see each other first and foremost as human beings.

I am going end this post with Shylock’s speech from The Merchant of Venice. Though this speech was written hundreds of years ago, it feels relevant today.

I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that. If a Jew wrong a Christian, what is his humility? Revenge. If a Christian wrong a Jew, what should his sufferance be by Christian example? Why, revenge. The villainy you teach me, I will execute, and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction.-Act III, scene I

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Filed under National News, William Shakespeare