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Reflecting on Pittsburgh

This one hits a little too close to home

October 30, 2018

by Sarah Whitman


I am an optimist through and through. My boyfriend rolls his eyes as I try to find the silver lining in everything, especially politics. I pride myself on being able to write most of these blog posts with humor and clever gifs even when the latest headline is more ridiculous and crazy than the one before.


But, this week I have been at a loss for words (and if you know me, I always have something to say). I truly have not been able to wrap my mind around the tragedy that took place at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh on Saturday, October 27th. Days after Parkland, Sandy Hook, and Pulse I felt sad about our world and angry at our country for not doing more; but, not until now have I felt the incredibly deep and hollow sadness that comes when someone targets your community.


I am Jewish. I grew up in a reform Jewish household going to a reform Jewish temple. I attended Hebrew school until I graduated high school, I was Bat Mitzvahed, and I love getting together with my family to celebrate the holidays. Most of my closest friends growing up were Jewish. Even in college, I found the other Jewish girls in my sorority. I have never felt uncomfortable being a Jew. I have never felt the sting of anti-Semitism until now.


I cannot describe the feelings that came Saturday morning. I sat quietly staring at my phone as my friends discussed around me. They said things like “I don’t get it how can people hate Jewish people” and “I love Jewish people I’ve never understood anti-Semitism”. I’ve said similar things about people of different races, ethnicities, and religions: “how can people hate them?” The question becomes so much deeper when it is your community they are targeting, your community they hate for no reason, and your people that the President is ignoring because he doesn’t care enough to realize that his rhetoric has caused a national security issue.


We are at a crossroads in this county. We have groups of people filled with hatred towards others either because of fear, greed, or lack of education and knowledge. It’s time for us to stand up and stand together. If it wasn’t your group this time, it might be next time. Jews, Muslims, Mexicans, Blacks, Women, Native Americans, LGBTQ+ -  the list goes on and on. If we don’t come together to stop the hateful rhetoric and to stand up for kindness and love and community our country will fall apart.


But I’m not done being an optimist, so here’s what you can do:

  1. Vote. Just vote because your community is counting on you. Vote out the people who spread hate and lies and vote in the people who stand against that hatred.

  2. Donate some money to the families of the victims. Anything helps.

  3. Call your representatives to urge them to fight for stricter gun laws. It is ridiculous that we are still fighting this fight.

  4. Phone bank with us! Every single day this week we have opportunities to get out the vote. It’s not enough anymore to just turn in your ballot and wait for election results. Make calls, talk to people, and make sure the important races get the results we need

I’m not ready to give up and lie down. We’re fighting until the end. #IStandWithPittsburgh #PowerThroughPeople



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