People of all faiths are invited to show their solidarity with Jews on Shabbat Oct. 25 and Oct. 26 – right before the first anniversary of shootings at the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh.
On Oct. 27, 2018, a gunman shot and killed 11 worshipers and injured several people, sending shockwaves through Pittsburgh and across the country.
The following weekend, on Nov. 2 and Nov. 3, Jews and non-Jews packed pews in temples and synagogues across the country in a show of solidarity. AJC estimated synagogue attendance in millions.
This year, the AJC is planning #ShowUpForShabbat to coincide with the anniversary of the shootings.
“The murder of 11 innocent Jews at prayer represented the worst of humanity,” Lee C. Shapiro, regional director of AJC Cleveland, wrote in an email to the Cleveland Jewish News. “The following Shabbat, we saw the best.
“Millions of people of all faiths rallied around AJC’s #ShowUpForShabbat initiative, in what became the largest-ever expression of solidarity with the American Jewish community,” she wrote. “Locally, we were truly heartened by the outpouring of support from our friends and neighbors who reached out, attended Shabbat services, and stood with us in our grief.”
AJC estimated more than 250 million online engagements through Twitter and Facebook a year ago.
Exactly six months later, on April 27, a shooting at Chabad of Poway in Poway, Calif., left one dead and three injured.
“In the year since the tragedy, we have seen a rise in anti-Semitic acts and rhetoric,” Shapiro wrote.
A Holland, Ohio, man was arrested Dec. 7, 2018, and indicted on federal charges relating to plotting to shoot Toledo area synagogues. In addition, a Mahoning County man who identified himself as a white nationalist was arrested Aug. 16 and indicted Sept. 26 on federal charges after New Middletown police learned that he had posted a video of himself shooting and tagged the Youngstown Jewish Community Center.
“On this solemn one-year anniversary, we are urging people of good conscience to #ShowUpForShabbat to honor the victims and raise our collective voice for a world free of antisemitism, hate and bigotry,” Shapiro wrote. “Together, we will stand in solidarity as a powerful force against hatred. Together, we will gather, remember, and act.”
The AJC is offering registration to synagogues that plan to participate and lists them by city or region. Listings include service times.
As of Oct. 4, the following cities and regions were listed: Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Detroit, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Long Island, Miami, New England, New Jersey, New York, Palm Beach, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington, D.C., West Coast Florida and Westchester/Fairfield.
Rabbi Scott B. Roland, vice president of the Greater Cleveland Board of Rabbis, said he gasped when he learned that nearly a year had gone by since the Pittsburgh shootings.
“So much of what myself and my colleagues on the board of rabbis have been processing and dealing with over this past year are our emotional and spiritual responses to Pittsburgh and the other attacks on Jewish communities over this past year, not to mention the work that we’ve been doing to ensure our own physical security,” said Roland, spiritual leader of Congregation Shaarey Tikvah in Beachwood. “I think that #ShowUpForShabbat provides an opportunity to open our doors to allow others to support us as they so ably did last year and to remind ourselves that we are fortunate to be part of a loving and supportive community.”
He recalled the initial response of Jews following the shootings in Pittsburgh a year ago.
“I think there was a little bit of anxiety leading up to show last year, as it seemed the natural reaction was to close our doors and not open them after Pittsburgh,” Roland said. “But we found when we opened our doors that we were joined by leaders of other civic and religious institutions as well as by our own community members who simply needed to be together.”
Rabbi Avi Goldstein, who leads the Columbus Board of Rabbis, said, “It’s such a meaningful response from the community to show faith in the face of adversity and solidarity with Jews across the world. I mean, terrorists, they try and make you terrified. That’s the whole goal. And the concept of #ShowUpForShabbat is to say that we won’t change our way of life. On the contrary, even those who don’t necessarily come every Shabbat will make an effort to come that Shabbat. I think it’s an extremely important thing.”
“The sanctity of Jewish houses of worship, the sense of American Jewish security, changed dramatically after these fatal terror attacks,” AJC CEO David Harris said in a news release. “When our core values as a nation are tested by the attacks on Pittsburgh and Poway synagogues, and assaults on Jews elsewhere, we stand united with all who are determined to ensure that love triumphs over hate, good over evil, unity over division. That’s our America.”
The Cleveland Jewish News is the media partner for #ShowUpForShabbat.