Rabbi Cheryl Klein was honored to offer the closing benediction on the PA House floor on Wednesday, April 10, 2019. Attached are her words.
5 Nisan 5779 April 10, 2019
Thank you for this honor.
Avinu o Imanu Ba’Shamayim, Source of life who creates human beings with the capacity to dream, hope and pray for a world where we can live in peace with one another, give this governing body the wisdom and strength of courage to guide us towards a path where residents of this Commonwealth can enjoy the rights to love, laugh and live with joy in their hearts. Grant those who serve all of us,the fortitude to work hard to make our collective communal experience a positive one where all who witness their efforts will want to emulate their success.
We do not want to exist in this Commonwealth by strategizing to survive.We desire to live in a world where we can thrive.
At this time, we are not thinking about the time when the lion will lay with the lamb…we are thinking about how our children and grandchildren can lay down to sleep at night without fear of waking up to a day where going to school, playing with their friends on the playground, going to worship services with their families or just being a kid is compromised by evil doers who have access to weapons for mass killing.
We may think that we have advanced as a society in the last thousand years compared to the barbarians of the early middle ages. Perhaps that’s the case technologically, but certainly not with regards to what has become sanctioned permissive anarchy to kill whomever some people choose not to tolerate. The barbarians used swords and spears to settle their differences. Different, in our society todayis met with violence by those who drink the rhetoric of hate and fear.
The murder of our 11 beautiful souls was an assault on my congregation in my hometown of Pittsburgh in what had always been my special “Camelot Community” of Sq. Hill. Others in this room I am certain feel similarly. We know that there will never be a return to normalcy, but we move each day to bring more light into our lives and the lives of others. We have been the beneficiaries of overwhelming, genuine compassion and goodness from our neighbors of all colors, religions and ethnicities fromacross both our local and the world community.
We are incredibly grateful and humbled, but there are questions we must address. How do we return to a society where civil discourse is foundational to decision making?
When will education of anti-Semitism and other racist language become paramount in our school systems so that we can raise a generation of people who can become thinking, rational, wisely proactive problem solvers who are savvy enough to identify the truth?
This moment of American history and this ravaging Sabbath massacre in my hometown tells us that all is not well in our Republic. Hate is emboldened, and White Supremacists are somehow mainstream. This diseased American moment was anti-Semitism in our face. It is ugly, unacceptable and its condemnation needs to be met with tireless strength. Healing for us can only begin when hearts are opened to feel our pain and action is taken to remedy access.
The murderous attack in Pittsburgh is one of 12 Gun Violence attacks on an American house of worship in the past 3 years. The Gun Violence epidemic claims about 33,000 lives every year. These evil acts take away our mothers, brothers and lifelong friends.
We pray that we are not guilty of inaction.
We pray that we are not guilty of complacency.
We pray that we are not guilty of allowing ourselves to be paralyzed by politics.
We pray that police officers will not have to put themselves in the line of fire to save those in the midst of solemn prayer.
We pray that those in this chamber, who have the power to make change, find the courage to seek a pathway to sanity and hope.
OlamChesedYibaneh- This Hebrew phrase means, we must work to build a world of loving kindness, tolerance, respect for other and not rest until we the people stand up for the rights of all people to live, love, learn and practice their faiths in this Commonwealth and country for the purpose of making our world better.Bless us so that we may soon know peaceand let us say, Amen.
Rabbi Cheryl J. Klein
We extend our deepest gratitude to the Pittsburgh Community for your overwhelming outpouring of support since the murder of 11 of our fellow Jews on October 27.
You have stood with us. You have sung with us, prayed with us, grieved with us and raised funds for us. Your support has held us up over the past several weeks and affirmed for us the strength of our Jewish and Pittsburgh Communities.
We were attacked because we are Jews. We condemn the white nationalist ideology the perpetrator embraced, a toxic belief system that promotes anti-Semitism and demonizes non-white immigrants, Muslims, the LGBTQIA+ community, and people of color.
We raise our voices to demand an end to hate speech and the othering of any human beings by anyone, including our elected leaders. We raise our voices to demand rational gun laws to help prevent future tragedies.
This tragedy will forever be a part of our story, but it will not define us. We will move forward and rebuild, not only our congregation, but our country.
If you or someone you know needs support in recovering from this tragedy, please see these resources from Jewish Family and Community Services.
Congregation Dor Hadash is a member-led congregation in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, an affiliate of the Jewish Reconstructionist Communities.
Congregants share in the responsibility for ritual programs and in all the administrative aspects of congregational life. Active participation is central to the exploration and development of our Jewish identities.
Our congregation is welcoming, egalitarian, and inclusive. Our congregants are Jews by birth or by choice; they are single or part of family units; they include people of different sexual orientations and gender identities; and they live in households that are of the same or different faiths.
All activities are currently being held at :
Rodef Shalom Congregation
4905 Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213