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A Message from the President of Synagogue Emanu-El

A Letter from the President of Synagogue Emanu-El
31 October 2018
22 Cheshvan 5779

Dear Friends:

The massacre in the Tree Of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh continues to haunt us. Like you, I watch the news and the funerals feeling the profound sense of loss. Looking back and looking forward, comfort and solace continue to come from our community.

If you were at synagogue Sunday morning, you saw what we are made of. We did not cower to fear. We did not let the actions of a hate-filled killer define us. The laughing and energetic voices of our Religious School children bounced off of the walls. Our 4th-6th grade class learned Israeli dancing from the Isaacsons in the Atrium. 100% of our 7th-8th grade parents participated in a Kesher meeting with Lara LeRoy and Daphne.

Simultaneously, our well-attended congregation meeting went on as planned. The accomplishments that were recognized and the announcement of future plans are a reminder, one that we likely don't need, that the anti-Semitic ranting of a gunman couldn't be more wrong. Judaism is alive, vibrant and thriving.

Many thanks to the Rabbi for the memorial service that preceded the meeting. It was an opportunity to come together to mourn the tragic loss of 11 lives. Many thanks to the mayor for organizing the vigil at the Holocaust Memorial, where we heard many eloquent speakers including our own Anita Zucker, reminding us that love triumphs over hate. Thank you to the rabbi for representing us so well on the steps of Mother Emanuel. If you did not see us on the news Sunday evening, please click on…/we-will-stand-against-anyone-who-wis….

Shabbat Chayei Sara - #showupforshabbat
This weekend, we will join congregations across the country for the #showupforshabbat campaign. While it is a Shabbat of sadness and mourning, it also must be a Shabbat of defiance, continuity and solidarity. These values will be pervasive as we welcome Shabbat on Friday evening at synagogue and at our Shabbat Together dinners. It will be part of our Shabbat morning service when we welcome our scholar-in-residence, Danny Siegel.

We remain in constant contact with the Charleston Police Department. After the horrific Tree of Life massacre, they reached out to us even before we could reach out to them, committing to more frequent patrolling. Chief Reynolds is in contact with Jewish leaders. His team has assured us that the killer in Pittsburgh has no ties to Charleston and appears to have acted alone.

None of that, though, is a reason for complacency. USCJ is providing guidance for increased security. Members of the Emanu-El board are working with the Charleston Jewish Federation to make sure we continue to leverage all safeguards put in place after the Mother Emanu-El tragedy. We remain part of the CJF Security Task Force. The Emanu-El security team, which includes Kenny Barfield, is being strengthened as we reexamine our synagogue-specific plan. CJF is awaiting word from Homeland Security on a federal grant that would provide more protection for synagogues. We are hopeful it comes through, but as Suzanne Lynch shared at the congregation meeting, we will never scrimp on budget dollars for security.

The board and I promise to keep you apprised of our progress on all fronts.

Let me close by thanking all of you, the Emanu-El family. As Jews, we have withstood tragedy so many times. As Americans, we have witnessed innumerable mass shootings. Tragic is an inadequate word. In the wake of this horror, we have brought to life the words of Rabbi Nachman of Bratzlav - that the world is a very narrow bridge, and the key is to not be afraid.

Best regards,

Marsha Gewirtzman, President
Synagogue Emanu-El

Wed, May 27 2020 4 Sivan 5780