Thanks to the leadership at Temple Shalom in Newton for hosting a very moving community vigil Sunday afternoon in reaction to the massacre of 11 people at a synagogue in Pittsburgh’s historic Squirrel Hill neighborhood. It was a standing room crowd and a powerful and inspiring program. Here’s the text of remarks by Mayor Ruthanne Fuller who is boarding an airplane today for a trip to Israel.
The heart stopping sound of gunshots ripped through the hum of an ordinary Saturday morning in the city.
This time the gunshots disrupted a peaceful Shabbat and tore through families gathered for prayer and for a bris – a celebration of life.
This time the gunshots were not random.
This time the gunman’s Anti-Semitic rage brought him to the Tree of Life Congregation. His hate steered him intentionally to a place where kosher grocers and delis dot the corners, where the sight of tzitzit is familiar, where mezuzah’s mark the doorways, and where Jews, people of our faith, my faith, have made their homes for generations.
Our hearts go out to the Jewish community in Pittsburgh and to the first res-ponders who were injured when they rushed to the synagogue to help.
We’ll learn more about those who died in the days ahead and we will mourn with their families and those who love them.
We will mourn. and we will again rage against the hatred and gun violence that have made these kinds of events too common in our country, from the Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston to the Tree of Life Congregation in Squirrel Hill.
I first thought, it could have been any city, anywhere. It could have been right here.
Then it struck me; this did happen to us. Squirrel Hill is us; Squirrel Hill is West Newton Hill.
I would love to say that here in Newton, in our good City where so many people of the Jewish faith live, where we call ourselves a welcoming city and hold close the core principles of respect, diversity and acceptance, that here, we are immune to this kind of hatred, this kind of anti-Semitism.
My heart aches because I can’t say that.
We have had swastikas drawn in our schools and playgrounds this year. We have had additional incidents of antisemitism, racism and hatred that I had hoped I would never see anywhere and certainly not here in our Newton.
We know we are living in a time when our country is divided, when rhetoric from Washington too often drives us further apart and stokes fear of “the other.”
I think a lot about this. And I think about how, we in this good city, can rise above the partisanship and beat back the hatred. By working together, with the leadership of Rabbi Berry and Rabbi Abrasley, with the help of Newton’s leaders of other faith traditions, many of whom are here today, with the efforts of our Superintendent David Fleishman and the Newton Police Department, with our City Council and School Committee.
By all of us working together, we will make this a better, safer city not only for people of our faith, but for everyone, no matter where we came from, what we look like, who we love, or how, or even if, we choose to worship.
As Rabbi Berry and Rabbi Abrasley wrote, we will work together to do tikkun olam – to repair our broken world.
We can’t let the hate silence us. Our arms must stay open. Yes, our hearts are filled with sadness, but they are also filled with love. Together we embrace the good among us.
We have been here before.
Tonight I’m boarding an El Al flight at 10:05 for Israel. At the Western Wall this Friday, I will pray that together our work will lead us to a day when we will not be gathered here for this reason again.
Shalom. Peace be with us all.