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Reclaiming Our Intelligence
Marilyn Robb

November 11 & 12

Knowing our

December 2 & 3

From Another Pittsburgh Jew

I grew up two blocks from Tree of Life [the synagogue in which eleven Jews were shot on October 27, 2018] in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. I walked past it every week on my way to the synagogue that I attended. I now live in Philadelphia (Pennsylvania).

Following the shooting I had a mini-session with a Jewish Co-Counselor. She counseled me first, and I looked at how the event led back to heavy Holocaust material [distress]. Then it was nice keeping my attention out as I counseled her about the event. I offered her our connection, to help her feel what had happened in a personal way. She planned to go that night to a gathering of Jews. I was inspired by her motivation to get out of the house and be with people. I hadn’t gotten that far yet.

Then I heard about a vigil organized by someone I know. I asked if anyone from Pittsburgh was speaking and if I could speak. In my sessions I worked on how I wanted to go home to Pittsburgh and didn’t want to be here with Jews who were more removed from the shooting. The sessions helped me decide that of course I wanted to be with Jews here in Philadelphia.

I had three minutes to speak and decided that the best use of my time would be to share what I know from RC. I spoke about how growing up in Squirrel Hill had given me a strong Jewish identity that I was glad to have. I said that we needed to face this act of anti-Semitism together with all people against all oppression, that our natural allies were all people facing all forms of oppression, that we couldn’t let this incident of being targeted by hate be used to fuel acts of hatred toward other groups.

I shared that I had had the chance to cry and shake and feel a lot. I said that many hard and horrible things happen to many communities every day and that I was grateful that I could feel this tragedy. I then set people up in mini-sessions. (It seemed only right to give people a chance to feel things as well!) I explained what to do in a mini-session and gave everyone thirty seconds each. People went for it [participated enthusiastically]. At the end I suggested that they try this later with friends when they could have longer turns. I saw people nodding and could see on some faces that there was appreciation of the tool.

Two friends from Pittsburgh who are also Jewish and Co-Counselors were there. We called for all Pittsburghers to join us after the vigil in a central spot. Almost thirty people with connections to the Pittsburgh Jewish community came. It was crowded and noisy. The three of us worked our way around to small groups, helped make connections go well, and pulled people in. People were eager to connect and share.

It was valuable for Jews from Pittsburgh to have that space together. We traded names of people we had heard had been shot. We searched for connections with each other and with the victims. I met cousins of two friends I had grown up with, and the friend of a parent of another friend. I met three college students who had attended my Jewish elementary and middle schools. I met someone who had gone to high school with another close friend of mine from shul [synagogue]. I met the parents of children who had gone to my summer camp. These were only some of the connections I made.

Rachel Beck

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Reprinted from the RC e-mail
discussion list for leaders of Jews

Last modified: 2019-05-02 14:41:35+00