Our hearts are shattered by the heinous and horrific attack on our brothers and sisters in Pittsburgh. We mourn the 11 holy souls who were so cruelly torn from our midst, pray to God to provide strength and comfort to their shocked and grieving families and pray for the speedy recovery of those who were injured. Their unfathomable pain is shared by the entire Jewish people, our University of Minnesota community and people worldwide.
As they stood in prayer and celebrated a new life entering into our world, 11 lives were suddenly taken from us — leaving families broken with gaping, painful emptiness.
An attack anywhere is an attack everywhere.
Rabbi Menachem Schneerson taught the need to turn tears into action: Beneath the surface of every terrible experience lies the opportunity to grow and increase in goodness. Every step back can — and must — become the impetus for a giant leap forward.
Now is not the time to point fingers and fan the flames of discord. It is the time to lend hands and come together as one.
During this difficult time, let us take courage from the age-old Jewish adage: “a little bit of light will dispel a great deal of darkness.” It is an indisputable reality. When light and goodness encounter darkness and hate, light and goodness will — without fail — prevail.
Let's each dedicate our lives a little more to goodness and kindness, as well as to true and boundless love of our fellow. Take on one additional mitzvah (good deed), so each and every one of us, in our own way, creates a personal space of love and holiness.
Let us as a people find the strength to use this unspeakable tragedy for good. Let us as a people use this ruthless attack against our community to usher in a new era of unity and pride. Future generations will look back and mark this moment as one that changed the future for the better.
In the merit of our collective good deeds, may we each bring comfort and peace.
If there is any way we can be of assistance, please do not hesitate to get in touch — that's why we're here. We are always available to talk, listen and to be of support.
This letter has been lightly edited for clarity and style.
Yitzi Steiner is a Rabbi at the University of Minnesota's Chabad - the Rohr Center for Jewish Student Life.