ARSP shares with each of you the horror at the events of this past week. These began with mail bombs sent to political leaders and with the murder of two black individuals near Louisville, Kentucky by a white gunman who thankfully failed to enter a nearby black church. The week ended with the horrifying anti-Semitic shootings at the Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and the death of 11 congregants by a gunman whose hatred extended from Jews to the refugees and immigrants helped by ARSP partners like HIAS.
ARSP has a special bond with Pittsburgh’s Jewish community, and a special mission to remember the past, stand against hate and for the democratic values of inclusion. For over 20 years, we have had volunteers serving at the Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh, and more recently at Classrooms Without Borders. While there is no placement this year, this is a community that is close to us in every way, and so we share personally in both the horror and the grieving for those who were injured and killed.
The day after the murders, Auschwitz survivor Magda Brown spoke several blocks from Tree of Life. Magda lives outside of Chicago and is connected both to the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center (IHMEC) and to the ARSP volunteers who serve there. She has been a friend and inspiration to us for over a decade. Asked if she would like to postpone her talk, she responded in typical Magda fashion, “Now the world needs to hear the message even more. Let’s go.”
ARSP stands in solidarity with all of the victims of last weeks outrages, with their families, and with the communities the gunmen sought to harm. May the memories of those who are gone be a blessing, and may we remember them in our continuing fight against hate and for justice in the perilous times ahead.
Mark J. McGuigan
US Program Director
Action Reconciliation Service for Peace/Aktion Sühnezeichen Friedensdienste