Twin Cities Jewish community groups mourn Pittsburgh 'atrocity'

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PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 27: People gather for a interfaith candlelight vigil a few blocks away from the site of a mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue on October 27, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)

As news of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting came to light Saturday morning, Twin Cities-area synagogues and Jewish community groups responded with messages of mourning, unity and, most of all, strength. 

Minnesotans all shared in the mourning of the people of Pittsburgh Saturday, but Sunday, the Twin Cities Jewish community will gather officially for a service of healing and support. 

The event will take place at 3 p.m. Sunday at Temple Israel at 2323 Fremont Ave. S, in Minneapolis.

Across the Twin Cities, law enforcement officials announced Saturday increased patrols and security at synagogues and Jewish community centers. 

As law enforcement took steps to keep these communities safe, Jewish community leaders released some powerful statements.

In addition, Gov. Mark Dayton ordered all flags in Minnesota to be flown at half-staff in honor of the victims of the attack. 

Here are statements from Temple Israel of Minneapolis, Jewish Family Service of St. Paul and Jewish Community Action. 

Temple Israel of Minneapolis:

Dear Temple Israel Family,

This morning as Jewish communities gathered around the country to mark Shabbat with worship and song, and we gathered to celebrate one of our learners becoming Bat Mitzvah, we learned that -- yet again -- freedom of religion has been met with violence in our country. We were horrified to hear the news that Tree of Life Or L'Simcha Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA was the target of a shooting.

While the details of this tragedy continue to emerge, this act of anti-Semitism feels very close to home. As we continue to worship and study together as a community, our minds and hearts are with the families of the victims and with the entire Jewish community of Pittsburgh.

 At Temple Israel, we have always taken security seriously, regardless of incidents such as today's tragedy. We allocate significant resources for visible and non-visible security measures every day. In light of this incident, our clergy and staff, together with our security team, have been in constant communication with our partners at the Minneapolis Police Department, Jewish Community Relations Council, and the Department of Homeland Security.

 Here in Minneapolis, our Christian and Muslim clergy partners have reached out to Rabbi Zimmerman to share their horror and sadness, and to let us know that the Jewish community is in their prayers. In light of this act of violence and hatred, we offer this prayer:

God of our ancestors, help us to uphold the teachings and traditions of the Torah, to pursue righteousness and compassion, justice and mercy, love and friendship, peace and understanding. May Your shelter of peace spread over us, over the entire Jewish people, and over all who dwell on earth.

L'shalom (toward peace),

Rabbi Marcia A. Zimmerman Senior Rabbi June & Alvin Perlman Senior Rabbinic Chair Tom Hoffman President, Board of Directors Anne Rasmussen CFO/COO

Jewish Family Service of St. Paul statement:

Jewish Family Service of St. Paul (JFS) Chief Executive Officer Ted Flaum has issued a statement regarding the terror attack at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. “The atrocity that occurred in Pittsburgh today is difficult to comprehend. We hold the grieving in our hearts and pray for their comfort,” said Flaum. “Here in our own community, we want to extend our chaplaincy and counseling services to everyone with the hope that we can somehow make sense of the senseless.”

Jewish Community Action Statement:

As you may have heard already, a neo-Nazi, shouting anti-Semitic slurs, walked into the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh and killed eleven people. 

We grieve for the members of Tree of Life, for the friends and family of the victims, for the Jewish community of Pittsburgh, and for own community who we know are in shock and mourning. And we are heartbroken that this shooting took place on the day parents and friends were celebrating a bris – the welcoming of their eight-day-old boy into his new community. 

But most of all, we are here. We are standing beside you. We are sending you all of our strength, and our faithfulness, and our love. We are here for you, as partners in grief. And we are here for you as partners in healing. We hope you have the space to care for yourself – to rest; to cry; to simply take a breath.

We are here to say that while we may be frightened, we will not be terrorized. While we may be shocked, we will not be silenced. And while racists, sexists, transphobes, bigots, and anti-Semites may try to separate us, we join our hands with our Black, Brown, Muslim, Queer, Indigenous, undocumented and disabled family to say:

They tried to bury us.

They did not know we were seeds.