University of Redlands President Ralph W. Kuncl writes to the community in wake of Saturday’s shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, where a U of R student lost her grandparents.
This weekend, Redlands, California seems not very far from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
One of our students lost her grandparents in the massacre of 11 worshipers at the Tree of Life Synagogue in that eastern city on Saturday.
On behalf of our community, to our student, to those injured—including four police officers—and to all of the families who lost loved ones in this heinous, discrimination-fueled act of ethnoreligious violence, I send our deepest feelings of condolence. We are hurt, caring, and concerned.
Pittsburgh’s Mayor Bill Peduto called Saturday “the darkest day of Pittsburgh’s history.” Yet, it feels like just one more dark day among so many that our nation is experiencing.
We feel whipsawed between stories ranging from ominous to outrageous to inconceivable. The themes of the past week seem to have been of exclusion, just the opposite of our University community’s values of inclusiveness, equity, and justice: that is, national, cultural, and political divisiveness; racial supremacy and outright hate; and now – yet again – gun violence on a mass scale. From domestic terrorism in the form of mail-bomb threats, to another massacre in a place of worship – with the innocent dead this time including close family members of one of our own – we ache with sadness.
It is easy in such times to feel helpless, angry, confused—even fearful—as we watch the news unfold. But, I urge us to take to heart what Mayor Peduto also said this weekend: “We know that we as a society are better than this.” This is an expression of hope that we can alter the future. Ever since our nation’s founding, an educated, voting citizenry is expected to do so.
I encourage our teaching and learning community of faculty and student scholars to talk about what is happening in our nation and world. I urge us to engage each other and talk about ways in which we as individuals, and as a very special community, can come together around these events to contemplate action and change.
Chaplain John Walsh has called for us to do just that—to come together as a community at the Labyrinth at Memorial Chapel [October 29] at 4:00 p.m. as our weekly gathering for “Monday Prayers for Peace.” We light the peace candle at 4:05. I hope to see many of you there. Hillel is planning their meeting [October 30] to be open to everyone who is going through our sense of communal stress related to the current events. The local synagogue’s Rabbi, Lindy Reznick, will be at the meeting to talk about what has happened. And, as always, I encourage you to seek support if feelings become a burden that requires extra help to relieve. Counselors can be reached 24/7 by calling 909-748-8960, or you may make an appointment at the Counseling Center on the Redlands campus by calling 909-748-8108; the Center is open 8:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.
In honor of the dead, and as proclaimed by the White House, the flag is to be flown at half-mast from October 27 through 31.