As the pain and heartache of the massacre at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh continues to spread throughout the country, there are many messages of love and support found in Northeast Ohio.
At the Temple Israel Akron, members arrived Sunday morning to find the words “YOU ARE LOVED” written in sidewalk chalk in front of the entrance.
A card taped to the doors read, “Please accept our heartfelt sympathies and condolences on desecration of Pittsburgh community.” It was signed, The Islamic Society of Akron and Kent.
The temple and the mosque have a strong relationship, one that began roughly three years ago when faith leaders from both began monthly meetings to discuss the similarities between the two religions.
“We’re friends now, and they were just showing that friendship during this time of loss,” said Jim Levin, president of Temple Israel Akron. He said the show of support couldn’t be measured in words.
“I actually broke down. It was tough. And it was good to know that people are on our side,” Levin said.
“People have to learn, they have to learn about their neighbor and they have to love thy neighbor. And it’s not that hard to do.”
Love thy neighbor is a sentiment Temple Israel and the Islamic Society of Akron and Kent take to heart.
For Dr. Ghulam Mir, outreach coordinator at ISAK, it is as simple as this:
“Primarily because it’s human. We are part of a human family,” Dr. Mir said. “We are brothers. We don’t come from different species. That’s why we must feel the pain of the other.”
Dr. Mir and Levin agreed that their strong bond is something many people can learn from.
“Reaching out and breaking barriers. And finding out on your own, that they have the same passions, they have the same aspirations for their families, for their children and they have the same aspirations for their community to live at peace,” Dr. Mir said.
Levin said they are grateful for the community support during such a difficult time. The Anti-Defamation League said the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre is the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the history of the United States.
The Islamic Society of Akron and Kent also sent News 5 the following release:
The Islamic Society of Akron and Kent is shocked and saddened at the mass shooting of members of Jewish congregation at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh during their religious services which left 11 people dead and six injured, four of them police officers. Our hearts and souls grieve in sympathy and our prayers go out to the victims and families of those who lost their lives or suffered injuries in this senseless blood bath.On the one hand, we are fortunate to be enjoying the diversity in this blessed nation which amazingly never stops evolving and offering millions of us peace, prosperity, and promise of the America dream. On the other hand, however, sadly and increasingly, tragedies like the ones unleashed yesterday and many times in the recent past shatter those dreams for many of our communities. Hateful thoughts, rhetoric and vitriol at our dinner tables, in our places of work and worship, and certainly from public platforms lessens our humanity and carries the real risk of stopping and even reversing the gains this country has made since it was founded.As we pray for our brothers and sisters of the Tree of Life Synagogue, let us stand shoulder to shoulder with other faith communities against discrimination, hate, bigotry and violence.For our part, in Akron, Ohio we started our journey together with Temple Israel four years ago to uproot bigotry and plant tree of love of our own among the Children of Abraham. We urge members of our congregations to not sit on the sidelines, but come together to water and nurture this tree for it to flourish.