Remember Pittsburgh - Take Action with Yellow Candles
My friend and brother Irwin Harris told me his story a few months ago. Besides being an officer of Tree of Life - Or L'Simcha Congregation and Past-President of their Men’s Club, Irwin is Past-President of the FJMC Tri-State Region and their current Ma’asim Tovim – doer of good deeds – Honoree. Irwin told me his story by phone, while walking on the sidewalks of NYC to visit his daughter for Shabbat. Irwin was careful to portray his story accurately.
On October 27, 2018, with three congregations present in the TOL building [close up space] celebrating Shabbat morning services, the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting took place. Eleven people were killed and seven (including the anti-Semitic perpetrator) were injured. It was the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the United States.
As a result, Irwin now tells me he’s also a member of a club that he wishes no one else to join. He wants no one else to feel his “pain.”
Irwin suggests that the response by The Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh was different than most. They “broke the playbook.” Yes, health care experts came into Pittsburgh from around the country. That was helpful. Then, theFederation donated $500,000 to the Pittsburgh Police Department. Pittsburgh police officers came into the building and neutralized the assailant. Four police officers were injured. Three of them were shot in the course of their life-saving actions. The police response was whole-heartedly appreciated and visibly observed.
Irwin says for that for years the three shuls have shared one morning minyan. He reflects,
“… maybe it’s God’s way to prepare us for what happened. Nothing has been the same since October 27th.”
How can Men’s Club’s respond?
Show strength – like the Pittsburgh community, live your life “Stronger Than Hate.” Teach and engage everyone in your community. Be strong. Be vigilant. Always remember where we’ve been.
How to do that? One response is the FJMC Yellow Candles program; light a yellow yarzheit candle. The flame is a remembrance that may be shared with your family and the community. For further remembrance, encourage everyone to light a Yellow Candle on Yom Hashoah, April 20, 2020.
The 11 who died:
- Joyce Fienberg, 75
- Richard Gottfried, 65
- Rose Mallinger, 97
- Jerry Rabinowitz, 66
- Cecil Rosenthal, 59
- David Rosenthal, 54
- Bernice Simon, 84
- Sylvan Simon, 86
- Daniel Stein, 71
- Melvin Wax, 88
- Irving Younger, 69
Recite a meditation. May their memory be for a blessing ….
We Remember Them
by Sylvan Kamens & Rabbi Jack Riemer
At the rising sun and at its going down; We remember them.
At the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter; We remember them.
At the opening of the buds and in the rebirth of spring; We remember them.
At the blueness of the skies and in the warmth of summer; We remember them.
At the rustling of the leaves and in the beauty of the autumn; We remember them.
At the beginning of the year and when it ends; We remember them.
As long as we live, they too will live, for they are now a part of us as We remember them.
When we are weary and in need of strength; We remember them.
When we are lost and sick at heart; We remember them.
When we have decisions that are difficult to make; We remember them.
When we have joy we crave to share; We remember them.
When we have achievements that are based on theirs; We remember them.
For as long as we live, they too will live, for they are now a part of us as, We remember them.