Kelly Latterman: Tree of Life
October 29, 2018
On Saturday morning, I was on the phone with my parents. Five minutes into the conversation my stepmother became completely silent, followed by, "Kelly, I have to go there is a shooter at the synagogue."
The call was over, and I was left waiting for answers. Was my grandfather at Shabbat services this morning? What about other relatives and friends?
Minutes later, a text, "Poppy is okay. Shooting was at Tree of Life." There had been initial confusion, and our family's synagogue, Temple Siani, which is two blocks away from Tree of Life, had been misreported as the scene of the mass shooting. I immediately felt relief, my family was not directly affected but then realized that my relief was another family's terror and despair.
Growing up in Pittsburgh, I attended a few Bar Mitzvah services at Tree of Life as a 12-year-old. I remember one where my friend was on the bimah reading their Torah portion and sunlight was streaming in through the stained-glass windows. Their grandmother was a few rows in front of me, and she kept crying. She was smiling, as she dabbed at the corner of her eyes, so proud of her grandson.
The tears shed today are from anguish. They flow from a place of deep and unbearable pain. Six police officers are injured, and on the other side of the bullet-ridden synagogue doors, 11 were killed.
Another day, and with it, another tragedy. Why can't we stop these tears? The Jewish people are resilient. They will overcome, but they should not need to and neither should any American.
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I hesitated in sharing these words, but it was my hope that they may spur conversation and ultimately action. With our voices united, we must say enough.