Thirty Days After Pittsburgh Synagogue Tragedy, a Jew and a Christian Turn to Their Bible for Guidance

Eleven people were killed at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Oct. 27, 2018. | (Screenshot: CBS News)

Just more than one month ago, the world witnessed the devastating murder of 11 Jews at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh — individuals killed because of their faith. Yet, as people of the Book, Jews and Christians should not turn away from God in the face of this tragedy. Rather we can look inside His holy book for guidance.

When we are at a total loss for words, we turn to King David for inspiration. When our hearts are shattered in a million pieces, the prophet Isaiah offers us hope. Rather than letting this heinous crime divide our faiths, our common love of the Bible — the true Tree of Life (Proverbs 3:18) should unite Jews and Christians and allow us to mourn together.

As an Orthodox rabbi (Tuly), I immediately think of two chapters in Psalms that are frequently invoked by synagogues in times of communal tragedies. When we first hear bad news, we immediately look heavenward and cry out, “A Song of Ascents. I lift up my eyes unto the mountains: from where shall my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:1-2).

Once we put ourselves in the right frame of mind and recognize God’s role in controlling life’s events, both good and bad, we go from looking outwards to looking inwards: “Out of the depths have I called Thee, O LORD. Lord, hearken unto my voice; let Thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications” (Psalm 130:1-2).

As the editor of The Israel Bible, the first Tanakh prepared by Jews for Christian readers, I was curious what verses in the Hebrew Bible non-Jews looked to for comfort following the synagogue shooting. So I reached out to my colleague and a Christian friend of mine who lives in Pittsburgh, John Isett, the director of BibleHub, one of the largest Bible sites on the internet.

I (John) was touched when the rabbi reached out and I told him what I have told my friends in Pittsburgh: We are grateful that the Jewish community in Pittsburgh has so graciously allowed Jews, Christians and non-believers alike to share in the grieving process. By their dignified and faithful response, the Jewish community has provided a wonderful testimony to the Pittsburgh community at large.

You have helped reflect the faithfulness and graciousness of God, and you have shown the same trust in Him that Abraham displayed. You have not wavered or blamed God, but have drawn even closer in the time of greatest need and distress. You have proved that no weapon formed against you shall prosper (Isaiah 54:17).

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Rabbi Tuly Weisz and John Isett