From Celebrating Shabbat to Shedding Light in the Face of Hate

This past week, the residents of Modiin have gathered twice in the park.  To welcome a shabbat of unity, we prayed together on the basketball court. The gathering was not extravagant, but it was deeply spiritual and meaningful for me and others. As we turned on our phones and learned of the tragedy that our fellow Jews were in the midst of in their attempt to celebrate shabbat and a double brit milah, we were stunned and our hearts ached. Sol and Dina Adelsky have family in Pittsburgh. Within 24 hours they had formed a group of people to plan a deeply meaningful poignant vigil to remember the lives of those lost, and the pain that we feel no matter our home address. Please see a video of the vigil, a photo taken to let Pittsburgh know that Modiin is with you, and words that I shared below.

תודה שבאתם הערב. הערב יכלול גם עברית וגם אנגלית, כיוון שרבים מאיתנו עולים חדשים מארצות הברית. אנו אסירי תודה שאנחנו יכולים להתאסף יחד, למרות הבדלי שפה, כדי להיות באמת עם אחד בלב אחד
Three days ago the residents of Modiin came to this very spot to pray. Three days ago we sang. We swayed. We celebrated a shabbat of unification. Three days ago I closed my eyes tight as I was surrounded by friends, some new and some soon to be. I felt a strong sense of community, unity and subconsciously, safety.
Hours later, two days ago, a community came together to pray and celebrate the birth of a new soul. Two days ago they sang, they swayed, they celebrated, and then hate and tragedy struck. Two days ago, Robert Bowers tweeted “HIAS likes to bring invaders in that kill our people. I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in.” Two days ago, we lost eleven holy souls. Two days ago, our fellow Jews in Pittsburgh went to shul early to learn before services began. Their commitment to community, Torah, and Jewish peoplehood was stopped by a hateful tweet which was followed by hateful murder. HIAS, the hebrew immigrant aid society,  is an American nonprofit organization that provides humanitarian aid and assistance to refugees- its slogan? Welcome the stranger. Protect the refugee.
Pittsburgh is now in a state of pain, grief and devastation. Squirrel Hill, the home of Mr. Rogers which was known for its pluralism and diversity in every sense of the word- racially, ethnically, socio-economically and, yes religiously. We are here because we mourn with you and so wish that we could comfort you. We are here tonight because we are with you. In the dark of this park, just as we gathered three days ago, we join to shed light in the face of darkness.
We come to remember Daniel Stein.
We come to remember Joyce Fienberg.
We come to remember Richard Gottfried
We come to remember Rose Mallinger
We come to remember Jerry Rabinowitz
We come to remember Brothers Cecil and David Rosenthal
We come to remember Husband and Wife Bernice and Sylvan Simon
We come to remember Melvin Wax
We come to remember Irving Younger
We come to comfort their loved ones and to fight hate with unity, song and prayer.
About the Author
Dr. Sharon Weiss-Greenberg is the Director of Communications and Development at ELI Talks. She is the former Executive Director of JOFA. For many years, Sharon has served as an educator and leader in the Jewish community. She was named by the Jewish Week as a person to watch as a "36 Under 36" honoree. Sharon has held a variety of professional roles including Director of Recruitment at Yeshivat Maharat and the Director of Online Engagement at the Consortium for Applied Studies in Jewish Education, and Rosh Moshava (Head of Camp) at Camp Stone. Sharon has served as the co-director and Orthodox adviser of the Orthodox Union Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus at Harvard Hillel and as the first Orthodox woman chaplain at Harvard University. She has taught at Yeshiva University High School for Girls in New York, Yavneh Academy in New Jersey, and the Denver Academy of Torah High School. Sharon earned her doctorate at New York University in Education and Jewish Studies, having concentrated on the female staff experience in the Jewish summer camp setting. She is an alumna of the Wexner Fellow/Davidson Scholarship graduate program She studied Talmud and halakha at The Drisha Institute for Jewish Education. She received her Masters in Education from the Azrieli Graduate School of Yeshiva University and received a B.A. in Sociology and Jewish History from Yeshiva University. Sharon can be reached at
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