Categorized | Viewpoints

Love bonds, heals and bridges after tragedy

At my synagogue in Youngstown, Ohio, we had just begun Oneg Shabbat (“Joy of Shabbat”) — the period following Saturday morning Sabbath services to connect with fellow congregants and share a light meal. In an instant, in the midst of the joy of Shabbat fellowship, the mood darkened. A member of our congregation had just heard that there was an active shooter in Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. Multiple conversations began about the connections between our community and the one under attack, including members of our synagogue who had worshipped or celebrated life cycle events there. Pittsburgh was an hour away from us, but the feeling of being attacked — simply for our identity and the faith we believe in — felt close and palpable in that moment. 

No doubt those actions felt close to many across this country and all over the world. The history of anti-Semitism is a long one. Racial, ethnic and religious hatred are by no means exclusive to any one community, as the tragic actions of another shooter in Louisville, Ky. recently demonstrated. The pain caused by the combination of hatred and violence has ripped a hole in the social fabric of our country far too many times.

But in the wake of the tragic events of the past number of days, I have seen a beautiful spirit of togetherness take hold. Across the country, people of all faiths and walks of life have stepped forward to show solidarity and comfort the grieving. Here, on this campus, students have put their arms around their fellow students to console and share in their loss. Staff at the Center for Diversity and Inclusion have worked hard to make sure that students are comforted in their time of need. In the face of evil, countless people have shown the beautiful, loving side of the human spirit that befits our common role as beings made in the image of G-d. Hatred is by nature a destructive force. But love is stronger than hate. Love creates bonds, heals wounds and bridges the divides that exist between us. 

Thank you, fellow Scots, for the love you have shown and continue to show in many ways — small and large — to members of your campus community. Together we must continue to reflect the light of G-d to those who need kindness and understanding the most. 

For those members of our community struggling to cope with recent events, please take comfort in the resources available on campus including counseling through the Student Wellness Center and pastoral counseling through Religious Life staff. I am personally available to students who need pastoral counseling in the aftermath of this recent tragedy. I pray for the comfort and healing of all those affected by recent events in Pittsburgh and Louisville. But I also pray that each and every one of our scholars here at Wooster, our next generation of leaders, will become the change that we need to see in how we treat each other and how we value diversity as a society.

Rabbi Dario Hunter, a Contributing Writer for the Voice, can be reached for comment at

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