October 29, 2018
 
A community's strength is seen in how it responds to crisis and tragedy. Last night, with little notice more than 1,200 people came together at the Mayerson JCC to cry, pray, hug and to be together. It was probably the largest gathering in our community in decades. When the Amberley Room overflowed a second vigil formed organically outside the building with rabbis shuttling back and forth.

Alongside our community members were leaders of Muslim, Sikh, and Christian congregations; and other faith and ethnic communities; and civic leaders from across our region. Our community's rabbis from virtually every stream and congregation, worked together seamlessly to serve the two simultaneous vigils. It was powerful and moving. We are truly Stronger Than Hate.
 
Our rabbis spoke from their hearts to our fear, anger, and worry that it could happen here. Synagogues, they said, should be refuges we run to, not from, when the worst happens.

If you missed it, you can watch the outside prayer vigil here.

This is the first time in American history that Jews were killed in their synagogues. We are horrified and heartbroken. Last night we needed to grieve. Today people are ready to act. You have asked what you can do.  Please do at least one of these:

Ways you can help

Share your moment on Facebook

Share a poignant moment from this past week. Use the hashtag #SolidarityShabbat and tag the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati.

Support the victims of the Pittsburgh shooting

Donate to the "Stronger Than Hate Fund." 100 percent will go to the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh's Fund to support the victims' families' medical costs, counseling, and other needs, and for synagogue reconstruction and additional security throughout the community. 

 

Write a Letter

Support the members of the Jewish community in Pittsburgh. Click here to leave a digital note.

 

Our relationship with local law enforcement could not be stronger. Here's an example of how well they know us. Aware that members of our Orthodox community do not use their phones or watch television on Shabbat, several Amberley Village officers found them out walking home from shul, delivered the news of the attack in person, and then actually walked along towards home with them. We are so grateful for their partnership and for their concern for our community. 

 

We want to let you know that the security of our community members and its organizations is a top priority. We launched SAFE Cincinnati over five years ago to reduce security risks. Since then SAFE has been working closely every day with the Mayerson JCC and all of our schools and congregations to improve security, including:

 

  • Implementing emergency response plans at every congregation and organization
  • Hardening targets with physical security improvements
  • Conducting crisis response training
  • Monitoring potential threats online and in social media

 

Area police departments have already increased patrols of our organizations. In addition, we will provide armed law enforcement officials at all of our congregations this weekend. This is expensive work and we are grateful to The Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati for providing grants to support most of these costs. 

 

The vicious hatred and antisemitism behind these murders have no place in our community or our nation. We must work to root it out. Fortunately, we can rely on the strong partnerships with leaders of other faith and community groups we have built through the Cincinnati Regional Coalition Against Hate and MARCC

 

Our nation needs to address the spike in senseless gun violence. Our Jewish Community Relations Council has been advocating for Governor Kasich's common sense gun safety legislation. To learn more about his proposal, click here, and to learn how to contact your local elected official, click here.

 

We are all struggling with how to cope with this vicious attack. Jewish Family Service has offered a resource on how to talk to your children about the shooting in Pittsburgh. And if you need someone to talk to, they are available by calling 513-469-1188.

 

We send our deepest condolences to the families and friends of those killed. May their memory be a blessing. We pray for the full recovery of the law enforcement officials and others wounded. And we will continue to stand with the Pittsburgh community in solidarity and support. 
 

Shep Englander
CEO, Jewish Federation of Cincinnati