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The Danger We Face After Pittsburgh

Sunday, 4 November, 2018 - 7:41 pm

Question of the Week:

We have all been deeply affected by the shooting in Pittsburgh. I think the fact that it happened in a shul makes it much closer to home. It makes me wonder if it is safe to take my family to shul this Shabbos. I know rationally that this week is no different to any other. But at the same time, I don't want my kids to feel they are in danger. We don't go every week anyway, so maybe this week we should give it a miss?


There is a great danger this Shabbos, more than usual. The danger is that Jews become intimidated into hiding away. In the wake of such a tragedy, avoiding shul is far riskier than attending. You risk giving your kids the wrong message.

I will never forget something that happened when I was living in Jerusalem during the 2001 intifada. One Thursday afternoon, the busy Sbarro pizza shop, just across the road from where I lived, became the target of a Palestinian suicide bomber. He stood amongst the crowds innocently eating their lunch, and exploded himself, killing 15 people, including 7 children and a pregnant woman, and injuring 130. It was an unspeakable tragedy that shook the Jewish world.

It hit me hard too. My wife and I lived so close and had frequented that very pizza shop. But what stuck with me was what happened in the aftermath of the attack. Within a few weeks, the pizza store was open for business again. Construction crews worked around the clock to clean up the wreckage and rebuild it like new, as if nothing had happened. A bustling eatery had turned into the scene of mass murder, and then back into a bustling eatery, all in the space of a month. Only one thing had changed. A plaque was placed on the wall that read:

In memoriam of the darkness that befell us on August 9, 2001.

Sbarro Family, City of Jerusalem, and the whole House of Israel.

All the employees came back to work that day, except for one who was killed and two who were still recovering from injury. They resumed serving lunch to their customers, including some who had been there on that dark day only weeks before. The message was powerful: We will not forget the dead, but we will not stop living.

This is the Jewish response to terror. We don't cower in the face of intimidation. We don't allow our enemies to define who we are and what we do. We don't adjust our lives to suit the evil schemes of those who hate us. We are here, and we are here to stay.

It was amazingly poignant that the day Sbarro pizzeria reopened was September 12, 2001, a day after the 9/11 attacks on America. Israel was teaching America and the world the answer to tragedy: we mourn for those who were lost, we pray for those who were hurt, we bring the perpetrators to justice, and we don't change who we are because someone doesn't like us.

You now have the opportunity to teach this truth to your children. Make a point to take them to shul, especially this Shabbos. Walk proudly as Jews. And explain to them that we don't let evil win. We cry for the victims. And we honour them by doing what they wished to do - live as proud Jews.

Good Shabbos,
Rabbi Moss

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