The Pittsburgh shooting and the call of justice

Our hearts are broken by the news of the mass shooting at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh earlier today. Our thoughts and prayers go to those affected by this hate crime: the families who have lost loved ones, the broader Jewish community who feels a renewed fear of the continued threat of anti-Semetic violence, and members of other communities targetted by hate groups who see in this attack a reminder of their own vulnerability.

Rabbi Arthur Waskow of the Shalom Center reminds us “The Torah teaches, ‘Tzedek tzedek tirdof — Justice, justice shall you pursue.’ Why “justice” twice”? This means: Pursue just ends through just means.”

The shooter, Robert D. Bowers pursued unjust ends through unjust means. His white Christian nationalist ideology led him to seek a country that put members of his community above others.  He pursued this unjust end through demonization and violence.

This crime follows just days after the series of pipe bomb attacks on Democratic lawmakers and their supporters and ricin-laden to the President. This series of attacks reminds us that demonization and hate speech have consequences.

“Justice, justice shall you pursue.” These crimes call us again to rededicate ourselves to the just ends: a society of inclusion and equity for all faiths, ethnicities, and genders. These crimes also call us pursue these goals through just means–coragously challenging the idoelogies of bigotry and supremecism while avoiding the seductive traps of demonization and violence.

As I write this the death toll stands at 11. May their memories be a blessing. May their families find comfort. And may we all join together in the just pursuit of a world of inclusion through just means.