In solidarity with the victims of the Pittsburgh Tree of Life synagogue attack, major Jewish organizations have invited people of all faiths to “show up for Shabbat” this weekend.
The American Jewish Committee and the Jewish Federations of North America started the Show Up For Shabbat campaign to increase attendance at Friday night and Saturday religious services as a show of support for Pittsburgh’s Jewish community after 11 people were killed in the shooting at their house of worship a week ago.
The Oct. 26 tragedy is deadliest act of anti-Semitism to occur on U.S. soil to date.
Daniel Elbaum, the American Jewish Committee’s chief advocacy officer, said the Jewish community is taking initiative to send a message that challenges the hate that motivated the Pittsburgh shooting.
“That message for Jews is we’re not afraid, that we won’t go back to those dark times in our history when Jews were afraid to publicly congregate in our places of worship,” Elbaum said. “And we wanted to give an opportunity to our allies, to our friends and all other communities to stand with us, to show their solidarity and say that a crime against one of us is a crime against all of us.”
The movement has attracted the attention of orthodox and reform congregations across the country and world, as well as many politicians and public figures.
The Tree of Life will hold their Shabbat services at the neighboring Beth Shalom synagogue, which has enough seating for 1,000 attendees, according to the Boston Globe.
Rabbi Matthew Soffer of Temple Israel of Boston told the Boston Globe his synagogue is expecting about 1,500 people to join its Friday evening Shabbat of Comfort, Community, and Courage service. Soffer also said Boston’s Gov. Charlie Baker, Mayor Martin J. Walsh, Sen. Edward Markey, City Councilor Ayanna Pressley and Police Commissioner William Gross plan to attend.
For those unable to attend Shabbat in-person, New York City’s Central Synagogue will live-stream its services, starting at 6 p.m. Friday and 9:30 p.m. Saturday.
Prominent political figures and celebrities have also urged people to attend Shabbat service this weekend.
“This weekend, Americans of many faiths are gathering to send a message of strength and unity against the forces of anti-Semitism that continue to exist in this country,” tweeted Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif. “We have so much more in common than what separates us.”
When the American Jewish Committee tweeted at “Entourage” actor Jeremy Piven to ask if he would attend services, Piven responded, “It would be an honor.”
The initiative has also spread to Jewish congregations across the pond.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan tweeted Thursday that he planned to attend services in his city.
“Places of worship should be sanctuaries and safe spaces,” Khan wrote. “Tomorrow I will be standing shoulder to shoulder with Jewish Londoners for their Shabbat service to show solidarity to the victims of the Pittsburgh shooting last weekend.”
Elbaum said it’s been “truly wonderful” to see how quickly #ShowUpForShabbat resonated with Jewish and ally communities as far away as London, South Africa and Asia.
“We’re hopeful that this is just the beginning of the story, that these relationships that have been rebuilt…can help us address some of the real pressing issues in society and really heal a lot of rifts that our society feels,” Elbaum said.
Jerry Silverman, president and CEO of the Jewish Federations of North America, hopes the campaign shows that the Jewish community and its supporters will not tolerate hate, will remember the innocent lives lost and will celebrate the first responders who saved lives last weekend.
“We come together as a community that will not tolerate hate, will not tolerate anti-Semitism, we will not tolerate racism, we will not tolerate xenophobia,” Silverman said. “We will be resilient, we will be unified and we will be together.”