We Are the Light

We Are the Light

Eric M. Robbins addresses the Pittsburgh shooting tragedy and how Atlantans came together to condemn hate.

Eric M. Robbins is the president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta.

I had just touched down, returning from Israel when I heard about the synagogue massacre in my boyhood neighborhood of Squirrel Hill in Pittsburgh. It was shattering to see the sweet, safe place of my childhood violated by a gunman targeting Jewish worshipers on Shabbat. It was heartbreaking to have personally known many of the victims.

But the tragedy in Pittsburgh can never shake my belief in the healing and meaning we gather from each other when behave like community. And our Atlanta community did just that.

As a community, we held 29 vigils. We conducted security consultation calls and worked with local police and the FBI to address community safety. More than 90 Jewish and 45 interfaith organizations came together to issue a statement condemning hate. We packed our synagogues for #SolidarityShabbat.

A few weeks ago, I returned to Pittsburgh and the Tree of Life synagogue accompanied by the board chairs of Federation, MJCCA, and JF&CS to meet with Federation and Jewish leaders from around the country. Atlanta was the only city to send a trio of leaders, demonstrating what it means to us to show up as a community.

Jeff Finkelstein, Pittsburgh Federation’s CEO, used the Hebrew word achdut (unity) to describe how his community is healing and moving forward. That’s my prayer for Atlanta, too.

In the midst of Hanukkah, let us remember that the word unity is embedded in the word community, and let us always be reminded that when we stand together, we shine our very brightest lights.

Chag sameach!

Eric M. Robbins is president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta.

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