President’s Note on Tree of Life Synagogue Tragedy, 10/30/18.


President’s Note on Tree of Life Synagogue Tragedy, 10/30/18

Dear Members of the Drew Community:

I write to offer our solidarity and heartfelt condolences to those directly affected by the tragic, senseless loss of life at the L’Simcha, the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh. In these difficult times, we stand beside you, and all members of the Jewish community, sending strength and love as you navigate this painful path.

To witness what is a clear example of anti-Semitism’s persistence in the United States evokes profound and potentially despairing grief. There should be no tolerance or space for such violations of human rights. Anti-Semitism, or the targeting of any group of people based on their religion or identity is and should be categorically unacceptable.

In the face of this terrible event, we are lifted up by the words of Jewish community leaders in Pittsburgh and around the world. Their humanity and faith temper grief with hope, issue a call to love, and inspire us to strive to be better.

Sadly, when this weekend’s events are placed in the broader context of the current climate, it is clearer than ever that our society is in a moment of crisis. Indeed, the attack on this community and its much loved and revered members is all too similar to recent attacks targeting other religious communities across the United States: at the Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin; at the AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina; and attacks on Muslim communities throughout the country. These events, and the mailing of explosive devises to members of the news media and to prominent political leaders last week, are alarming evidence of a much larger problem in our country where racial, religious, and political differences are weaponized with vitriol and violence rather than being valued, celebrated, and respectfully engaged.

The tragedy in Pittsburgh is also evidence that the values championed by the Drew community are more relevant now than ever. We must lead by example. We must demonstrate, on campus and in our hometowns, the importance of all forms of diversity, religious and otherwise. We stand in solidarity with the L’Simcha congregation, and the many who espouse peace and freedom worldwide.

The Theological School, Hillel, and Campus Life and Student Affairs are hosting a series of gatherings and events at which our community can gather and discuss the events of this past weekend and resources for members of the community who may need support during this difficult time. More information can be found here.


MaryAnn Baenninger