In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a gunman opened fire on Shabbat services and a bris taking place at the Tree of Life synagogue. Eleven people have been confirmed dead so far. The gunman — a 46-year-old white male — reportedly shouted, “All these Jews need to die” as he was being taken into custody.
A gunman shot up a bris and Shabbat services at a synagogue. This is the world we’re living in.
As this news sinks in, and we try and heal, our hearts are with the Jewish community of Pittsburgh. We feel heartbroken.
In the wake of the tragedy, many prominent Jews shared messages of solidarity, anger, and heartbreak on Twitter.
President Trump’s response was to call for armed guards.
The President thinks that the solution to preventing gun violence is to have armed guards at a bris. A fucking bris.
— Tommy Vietor (@TVietor08) October 27, 2018
As Kveller’s social media editor Lior Zaltzman tweeted, “My son’s bris was one of the most moving days of my life. For someone to do this is reprehensible and incomprehensible. My heart breaks for the Jewish community in Pittsburgh.”
A bris happens when the baby is 8 days old. The mother, who gave birth just eight days earlier, usually drags herself to shul for this ceremony. That’s who this fucker shot at today. That’s who had to run for their lives and barricade themselves and God willing saved themselves
— Did you… read the article? (@bungarsargon) October 27, 2018
They were hosting a bris this morning at this synogogue. A bris. Parents, perhaps for the first time, were marking the birth of their son just eight days prior— a profound and emotional moment in their collective lives— and some maniac burst in a shot everyone. During a bris.
— Sam Stein (@samstein) October 27, 2018
How do you explain the news to your kids?
As Kveller contributor Ilyse Muser Shainbrown wrote last year, it’s important to explain that this is not normal. “I can certainly ensure that my children will understand the importance of combatting hatred. That they will know the history behind anti-Semitism. That when they go forth into the world and are faced with hatred, they too will not accept that this is ‘normal.'”
Incredibly useful are these tips, written about how to talk to children after the shooting in Newton, Connecticut in 2012. Unfortunately, they remain relevant. Another helpful resource is Rabbi Rebecca Rosenthal’s guide to explaining bad things to your children, meant to help parents address tragedy with kids of every age.
Our thoughts are with the families of the victims of this terrible tragedy. May their memories be a blessing.