Rabbis who survived Pittsburgh shooting mark 30 days of mourning


(JTA) — The outpouring of love and compassion in the wake of the shooting attack at a Pittsburgh synagogue has been a comfort to the Jewish community, the rabbi of the Tree of Life synagogue said.

In thoughts to mark the end of the shloshim, or the first 30 days of mourning, since the deaths of 11 worshippers in the attack on a Shabbat morning in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood, Rabbi Jeffrey Myers also said that the “nightmares, fear, insomnia and trauma” remain.

“The outpouring of compassion and love, not just from fellow Jews, but people of all faiths throughout the world, has been a soothing balm,” Myers wrote in remarks distributed by The Rabbinical Assembly. “It has reassured not just our synagogue, but the entire Jewish community, that we are not alone at this time, that all good people stand with us. This renews our faith in all humanity.

“Our self-imposed restrictions are eased. But what of the emotional restrictions: the nightmares, fear, insomnia and trauma? Who ends those? Where do we turn when our faith is shaken to its core? In times of tribulation, we have always turned to the Psalms: I turn my eyes to the heavens; from where shall my help come? My help comes from God, Maker of heaven and earth,” he also wrote.

Rabbi Jonathan Perlman of the New Light Congregation, who also survived the attack, wrote a poem for rabbis to share with their congregations this  Shabbat, when many rabbis plan to talk about the ending of the official mourning period since the attack.

“You Eleven too made us what we are today. And your absence wears heavy on our souls. We miss your smiles, your humor, your leadership. We miss your energy, your love, your loyalty,” he wrote. “We are told that thirty days ends the weeping. We are told now we can move on. But it remains – the story, the grief, the day.”

The Rabbinical Assembly’s CEO, Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, sent a message to its members.

“We continue to pledge our support and our friendship to the survivors and the families of the victims,” she said. “As colleagues, we extend our loving support to Jeffery Myers and Jonathan Perlman who survived the shooting, and to RA past president Alvin Berkun, rabbi emeritus of the Tree of Life Congregation.”

On Monday night, hundreds of Pittsburgh Jews and their supporters gathered at the Marriott City Center in downtown Pittsburgh for a communal marking of the shloshim organized by the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh.

The event included prayers and readings including the El Molei Rachamim mourners’ prayer and a prayer for those injured in the attacks, and the lighting of 11 candles for each of the victims. The Pittsburgh police officers wounded while responding to the attack attended the event and received a standing ovation from the crowd, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.