There are no words to convey the shock, horror, and grief that we are feeling in response to the senseless attacks that took place at the Tree of Life Synagogue.
There are no words that will bring back the victims who were murdered as they prayed during Shabbat services in a house of worship that is supposed to be a place of peace and comfort.
And yet, we must find the words. We must speak out against this kind of hatred and violence because as Elie Wiesel warned, “Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” We cannot afford to be silent anymore.
The Maimonides Institute for Medicine, Ethics and the Holocaust was founded on a simple idea: “Remember the Past; Protect the Future.” Today, we remember a time not so long ago when anti-Semitism led to the murder of six million Jews. The impulse to divide humanity into “us” vs. “them” was at the root of the death and destruction that took place then, and it continues to haunt our society now. As we mourn the loss of life that took place at the Tree of Life Synagogue, we must realize that our only hope for protecting the future lies in our ability to learn from the past. Intolerance and hatred are our enemy. We must put aside our differences in order to create a better future where all people are treated with dignity and respect because that is the very foundation of what it means to be human.
In Judaism, there is a concept known as Tikkun Olam, in which we are encouraged to perform acts of kindness in order to repair the world. We have a responsibility to those who were murdered at the Tree of Life Synagogue and those have been persecuted and killed throughout history for no reason other than being Jewish to take action to try and heal this broken world.
We will not be silent in the face of hate. We pledge to stand up and speak out against anti-Semitism, prejudice and intolerance of any type. Only then can we fulfill our promise of “Never Again.”