A Solemn Reflection on the Massacre at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA

“There is a time for everything… a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance…” Ecclesiastes 3:1-4

The day after the gruesome massacre at L’Simcha (Tree of Life) Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA, we lament the loss of 11 precious lives who died and the 6 people who were wounded. We detest the repulsive and malevolent evil that fills a person’s heart to carry out such execrable violence.  Senseless violence that is contemplated, attempted, or inflicted remind us that evil is utterly destructive; hate is absolutely repulsive and the ramifications are catastrophic and self-defeating.

Today, we mourn because we suffer together with the families and loved ones of those we loss.  Our hearts break for the families and we are intensely prayerful for the 6 people who are alive but wounded.  We mourn with our Jewish sisters and brothers who feel the whiplash of lingering antisemitism that has plagued their community for thousands of years.  Our nation, once again, has succumbed to senseless aversion and ferocity.

Another faith community (this time – a Jewish Synagogue) is devastated, pulling the bandage off the emotional wound that lingers from the massacre at the Sikh temple in Oak Creek, WI, Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC and First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, TX.

Sociologists have noted that congregational spaces (i.e. churches, synagogues, mosques, etc.) exist as beacons of hope for the people in our communities.  Violent shootings in congregational spaces not only desecrate the sanctify of sacred space but also blastoff an assault upon the community’s symbol of hope.

Every citizen of the world must condemn all forms of religious hate, racism, xenophobia, political violence, and any other manifestation of intolerance.  We do not have to agree to be civil.  We must not seek to champion a cause at the demise of other people.

Let’s strongly detest hate, cling to love, and pursue justice with all of our hearts and at all cost.  We must not allow revulsions and massacres to prevail as a new norm.  Let’s learn civility and honor.  Let reconciliation be our story and love carry us forward.

Let’s pause and take this time to lament.  We cannot afford to keep repeating the nightmare before us today….


Dr. Antipas