On Friday, two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand became the latest target of murderous hate and bigotry. The death toll from this violent attack has risen to 50, with countless other lives traumatized and shattered.
Our hearts go out to the Muslim community, both in Christchurch and here in the United States. As Eric Goldstein, CEO of UJA-Federation of New York wrote on Friday, “We are heartbroken for the Muslim community of New Zealand in the wake of the horrific shootings. We know what it is to have our places of worship desecrated, and what it is to be targeted because of who we are.”
Christchurch has become another community that understands what it means to no longer feel safe in a holy space designed for worship, comfort, and hope. Like Pittsburgh, Charleston, and Jerusalem—Christchurch has become the latest community to experience this violence firsthand.
These are holy spaces with thoughts and prayers at their center—and therefore we offer our thoughts and prayers with all our heart. But we also offer more.
We know how important it is for the victims of such tragedies to see expressions of solidarity and support. We felt strength and comfort when those of other faiths from around the world reached out to us in solidarity after the Tree of Life Synagogue massacre in Pittsburgh and throughout the bomb threat crisis that targeted JCCs.
JCC Association of North America’s board chair, Gary E. Jacobs, deplored these actions. “Unfortunately, the sanctity of human life is held in low esteem by these perpetrators of terror attacks, ” he said. “We will continue to work with our neighbors of all faiths to create safe space in our respective houses of worship and community gathering institutions.”
On Friday, Brian Schreiber, CEO of the JCC of Greater Pittsburgh, along with other leaders of the Jewish community traveled to the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh to tell the Muslim community that they were not alone in their grief—just as they told us we were not when the Tree of Life Synagogue was attacked. As Brian puts it: “We have a choice. We can stay on the sidelines or we can continue to be actively involved in the rebuilding and healing of our own community and others in similar circumstances. Today was one of those moments.”
One way we can show solidarity is to write letters of support to the two mosques and to those who worship there. You can address them to Masjid al Noor 101 Deans Ave, Riccarton, Christchurch 8011, New Zealand; or Masjid Linwood, 223A Linwood Ave, Linwood, Christchurch 8011, New Zealand. The Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh has created a donation page, the proceeds of which will go to the victims of this most recent attack.
Our hearts go out to the Muslim community. As Marnie Feinberg, a member of the Pittsburgh Jewish community who lost her mother-in-law in the Tree of Life shooting, so eloquently wrote on Friday, “Today all I have are tears. Tomorrow—maybe we can all work together to find a solution and protect all of us when we are at our most vulnerable.”