Letters to the UMB Community

Attack on Synagogue Worshippers

To the UMB Community:

On Saturday, 11 people were murdered while worshipping at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in U.S. history. The killings came three days after a man opened fire in a Louisville grocery store, targeting two African-American customers. That gunman would have killed more, had the church he earlier attempted to enter been open.

Hate is nothing new in this country, nor are bigotry and violence. But hateful acts and hateful speech are escalating rapidly. People who long held hate in their hearts are now emboldened to express it. And so we mourn for the 11 worshippers killed in the Pittsburg synagogue, just as we mourned the 26 worshippers in a Texas church, and the six worshippers in a Canadian mosque, and the nine worshippers in a Charleston church, and the six worshippers in a Wisconsin gurdwara.

But we can do more than grieve. We can vote. We can vote in those leaders who reject violent rhetoric, who condemn hateful acts, who work for unity instead of division. We can vote in those leaders who know that what’s happening in this country is real, who understand that it’s not normal, and who will say unambiguously that it’s not OK. The midterm elections are Tuesday, Nov. 6. Beyond elected officials, we can support all people in positions of leadership who speak out for civil discourse and respect for others.

These acts of violence are intended to imperil our sense of safety. And so I ask that we come together to be a safe space for each other; that we listen closely to one another, especially when we disagree; that we share our experiences and our fears; that we try harder to know one another more deeply and understand each other’s perspectives more fully.

Every day, I see how our UMB community models tolerance, empathy, compassion, and love. Other people see it, too. So let’s show them how a community as wonderfully diverse as ours comes together in times of grief and anguish, how we support one another and care for one another, and emerge stronger than ever before.


Jay A. Perman, MD

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