In Solidarity with Tree of Life, Vancouver Memorial

One thousand people gathered at the memorial for Pittsburgh held at the Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver on October 28, 2018.

Or Shalom’s Rabbi, Hannah Dresner, who is also chair of the Rabbinical Association of Vancouver, gave these opening remarks at the Vancouver Memorial in Solidarity with Tree of Life – Or L’Simcha Synagogue, Pittsburgh:

The atrocity we are here to mark is the largest single attack on a Jewish institution in the history of North America. It has occurred within a framework of hating many Others. Not just Jews or Muslims, but also People of Color, Women and Queer Folk, and on. Our hearts grieve for the Pittsburgh Jewish community, and for the growing anti-Semitic tendencies evident in our society.



In many ways, we Jews have healed past victimhood. We are in positions of comfort and in a position to offer aid to less enfranchised peoples. It is my fervent hope that we will not allow an act of terror to reduce us to a state of victimhood again (and to the entitlement victimhood sometimes engenders).

The message that arises in my heart is one of encouragement – to stay strong for the sake of the work it is ours to do as we enact the great Jewish mandate to repair our world. 

We must stand with immigrants and other minorities and together defeat hate and violence, anti-Semitism, sexism, and racism.

We must combat hatred with pride in our self-worth – with nobility, goodness, and with radical love, being affected by this massacre not just to protect our own, but to strengthen our empathy for marginalized peoples and strengthen our resolve to each do the job that is uniquely ours to do in creating a heaven right here on earth.

But first, of course, we must grieve, and we do grieve a Jewish injury and a Jewish loss.

Later in the service, this interpretive memorial prayer by Alden Solovy was read aloud.

Adapted for the people of Pittsburgh
a prayer “After a Deadly Anti-Semitic Attack”…
© 2014 Alden Solovy

Author of life,
Man has turned violent,
Cutting down innocents
Crushing lives,
Upending dreams,
Attacking hope with hatred.

Source and Creator,
Grant a perfect rest under your tabernacle of peace
To the victims of murder at the Tree of Life Synagogue,
Whose lives were cut off by violence,
An act of witless aggression
And calculated anti-Semitism.
Remember the survivors of this horror,
And the victims of any violence, suffering or despair.
Grant them shelter and solace,
Comfort and consolation,
Blessing and renewal.
Grant them endurance to survive,
Strength to rebuild,
Faith to mourn,
Courage to heal,
And devotion to each other.

Heavenly Guide,
Hand of love and shelter,
Put an end to anger and hatred,
Bigotry and fear,
And lead us to a time when no one
Suffers at the hand of another.

For the sake of our people,
And for the sake of Your Holy Name,
Grant the Jews of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania,
Your protection,
Your wholeness and healing,
And Your peace.

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4 Responses to In Solidarity with Tree of Life, Vancouver Memorial

  1. Robert Bateman says:

    Beautiful words Rabbi! Todah rabba!

  2. Karen Lewis says:

    Thank you for your very comforting and wise words, dear Rabbi.

  3. Deborah Ross-Grayman says:

    Deeply moving and poignant. Thank you Rabbi Hannah.

  4. Kathy Brandon says:

    Thank you Rabbi Hannah for your wise and loving words of strength – poignant and so important in these troubled times and always.

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