The horrific attack that left 11 dead and six wounded at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh on Oct. 27 has deeply affected the Hartford Seminary community.
On the day of the shootings, President Joel N. Lohr sent a message to Hartford Seminary students, faculty, staff, and friends, saying: “Words can’t express how troubling such senseless acts of violence like this are. As we attempt to work through our grief, frustrations, sorrow, and questions, let’s pull together in solidarity with our Jewish neighbors and friends. … May God give you all, and especially those who are mourning tonight in Pittsburgh, comfort and strength.”
The following day, President Lohr was among a handful of elected officials and other leaders who spoke at a vigil held on the steps of Congregation Beth Israel in West Hartford. He addressed issues of historic anti-Semitism before saying, in part:
“I humbly call on all of my Christian brothers and sisters, all of my siblings whatever your denomination or position, to rethink how we relate to our Jewish family. May the Holy One grant us wisdom. May the Holy One forgive us. And may the Holy One help us to heal and to turn from sin (teshuvah). My prayer tonight is that you, our Jewish communities, would know that we stand with you. My prayer is also that we might all support each other, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and all people of faith and no faith. That we might embrace the way of love, doing our utmost to emphasize our traditions and Scriptures that point to the way of love — Love of God and Love of Neighbor.
The full text of President Lohr’s remarks can be found below.
On Monday, Dr. Deena Grant, Associate Professor of Jewish Studies, spoke at the Hartford Seminary’s community hour in response to the tragedy, the worst anti-Semitic attack in American history. She read excerpts from an article by Peter Beinart in The Forward, and sang a prayer in Hebrew and English.
Later on Monday, the Seminary gathered for an interfaith chapel service led by the Rev. Dr. Michael Piazza. Rabbi Barbara Paris, a Doctor of Ministry student, led several prayers and shared her experience after the shootings.
“My Muslim and Christian friends were the first ones who wrote to me,” she said. “This Seminary really embodies what could be and should be.”