Progressive Jewish organizations in Washington acted quickly last weekend, holding a series of vigils for the victims of Saturday’s mass shooting of Jews in Pittsburgh.
“This is what solidarity looks like,” said Stosh Cotler, CEO of the Jewish social justice organization Bend the Arc at a vigil Sunday afternoon at Lafayette Square. On Saturday night, hours after the shooting, the group organized a Havdalah vigil in the same spot.
Speakers at the Sunday gathering laid the blame for the 11 deaths in Pittsburgh squarely on incitement by President Donald Trump. “We are here to make clear to the president and his enablers that our communities hold them responsible for putting our lives in danger,” Cotler said.
Pointing to the White House, just yards away, she said, “This blood is on your hands.”
To “white nationalists,” she said, “You are welcome here too. But your hatred is not welcome and your violence will not destroy us.”
Muslim and pro-Palestinian activist Linda Sarsour said the Jews, Muslims, Latinos, LGBT people and other minorities at the vigil represent the majority of Americans.
“We understand that the building blocks of white nationalism is anti-Semitism,” she said, “and they add onto that anti-Muslim xenophobia, homophobia and transphobia. What we must agree on is that we can live in safety, and in dignity in this country.”
Later, at Dupont Circle, IfNotNow DC and the New Synagogue Project held a community minyan for the Tree of Life Synagogue. That was followed by a solidarity vigil for victims of anti-Semitism and racism, organized by Jewish Voice For Peace—DC Metro, Justice for Muslims Collective, New Synagogue Project, March For Racial Justice, and Showing Up For Racial Justice (SURJ-DC).
“Now is not the time to respond with fear,” Chase Carter of Jewish Voice For Peace-DC Metro told the gathering: “Increasing private security and increasing police presence within our communities is not the path toward achieving true safety. Safety will come when those in government stop stoking the flames of hatred and empowering those who believe in white supremacy. We know that the true path to safety for all is in building joint struggles for justice and showing up to protect and defend one another from all forms of supremacy, racism, and bigotry.”