Statement in Memory of the Pittsburgh Synagogue Victims
These 11 individuals deserve to be remembered here in the Senate of Canada. They deserve to have their unique and particular lives celebrated. They also deserved to worship their God without fear of terror or torment.
What happened last Shabbat morning in Pittsburgh was the violent manifestation of the age-old evil that is anti-Semitism. These innocent souls – among them a 97-year old-holocaust survivor and a 75-year-old academic who lived much of her life in Toronto -- were not murdered for any other reason than that they were Jews.
Last night I attended a vigil in Toronto in their honour. Over 5,000 people came together in Mel Lastman Square to say: no. No to hatred, no to evil, and no to anti-Semitism.
Similar outpourings of support for the Jewish community have been held in cities across Canada and the United States. These gatherings have been attended by Jews, and Muslims, Christians and atheists. And for that I simply want to say: Thank You. We are fortunate to live in a country that is tolerant and welcoming of those of the Jewish faith. And a country where citizens stand shoulder to shoulder in moments of tragedy to work together to find healing through the devastation.
We must not let this moment pass without committing and re-committing ourselves again to combatting anti-Semitism in all its forms.
As the Honourable members in this Chamber are aware, I am a proud Jew. And like so many other Jews – I am concerned about the rising levels of anti-Semitism around the world, including here in Canada.
While an increase in security for our Jewish institutions and places of worship may be a short term solution to the current environment we find ourselves in today– no Jew wants to live in a world where it is necessary to pass through a metal detector to attend a wedding, where the celebration of religious festivals requires an armed guard at each entrance, or where the simple act of praying in a pew requires a familiarity with the nearest exit.
Indeed we need to work together to denounce the forces of darkness and hate whenever and wherever they happen.
May the families of the 11 victims find comfort.
May all those injured be granted a swift and full recovery.
May the first responders, who rushed towards danger in the hopes of saving lives, know how deeply appreciated and respected they are by all of us.
And may we emulate their courage to do the right thing when the values that we cherish as a nation come under threat and assault.