Pray for healing


In the aftermath of the massacre at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, our Hebrew Center community is in deep mourning. We are so grateful to the Island community for reaching out to us and joining us in our prayers for healing. We invite you to pray together at the Hebrew Center Friday, Nov. 2, at 5:30 pm. We pray for the families of those who were killed. We pray for the healing of those who were shot and wounded, including four brave police officers who put their lives on the line to save others. We pray for the healing of the fabric of this nation, which seems to be unraveling before our eyes.

Yet that fabric is also being strengthened. It is strengthened with each sign of unity and love we put on our houses and buildings. It is strengthened with each hour we dedicate to an organization devoted to justice. It is strengthened whenever we do acts of kindness for one another, whenever we expand the “I and mine” to “we and ours,” whenever we live out the teaching that each of us is created in the image of God.

The Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, who died in 1810, taught, “The whole world is nothing but a narrow bridge — the main thing is not to be afraid.” Fear can be an important emotion, but fear that is stoked and exploited can be devastating. F.D.R. was a wise and responsible leader when he said, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” And yet today, some leaders use fear to divide us and unmoor us in order to win elections or increase their power. We are told to fear immigrants, to fear transgender people, to fear Jews, to fear people of color, to fear those who disagree with us. Such fear, magnified by hateful words, is bound to lead to hateful acts.

And so it is our task to counter such fear with faith, to counter hateful words with words of compassion, and to counter hateful acts with acts of kindness. And there is another thing we can do — vote. We can vote for leaders who are committed to the dignity and safety of all. And in Massachusetts on Nov. 6, we can also vote for a ballot question, Question 3, which affirms civil rights for all. Voting “yes” on Question 3 is voting yes on the dignity of all. Voting yes on Question 3 is rejecting the politics of fear and hatred. What does that have to do with Pittsburgh? Everything.


Caryn Broitman is rabbi of the Martha’s Vineyard Hebrew Center. She graduated from Harvard University in the Comparative Study of Religion, and received her rabbinical ordination from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College.


  1. I thought churches and synagogues are not allowed to ask people to vote for certain amendments or candidates. I thought politics from the pulpit is against the law. Perhaps I am incorrect. The penultimate paragraph of Ms Broitman is implying that the Republicans and Trump are telling us to fear transgenders and Jews and to hate and the implication is very clear and palpable. Rabbi would be well to stick to the prayers and the healing words and not the phony indictments.

  2. Andrew, do you also condemn the Moral Majority, the Christian Coalition, Pat Robertson, The 700 Club, Mike Huckabee – former governor of Arkansas and Baptist minister, The Liberty Council, FRC Action PAC, The Alliance Defense Fund (ADF President Alan Sears says there is no such thing as church-state separation in the Constitution,) the Southern Baptist Convention Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, The Christian Political Party, John Claggett Danforth, Robert Jeffress (the pastor pastor who said, “Jews Are Going to Hell.) Politics from the pulpit is not against the law. For Trump, it is the law. Phony indictments? Come, now.

    • I suspect Andrew is against those you list as well, and I am 100 percent with him. Politics from the pulpit seems to depend on the political party controlling the airwaves.

      This means one side is saying congregants must remember what is morally right and wrong when they vote and hope they paid attention in Sunday School.

      The other side follows the organized religion model, placing words by their human leaders over those of Heaven, telling people any deviation from their list of candidates is a sure path to Hell.

      As for Rabbi Broitman’s request of us, we’re too far past the usefulness of any thoughts and prayers style message.

    • Bulkington you do not know what you are talking about. The organizations you mention are advocacy groups and of course they are allowed to function. The Johnson Amendment strictly affirms that any 501C3 non profit organization that does not pay taxes may not endorse or condemn a political party. If it does it loses its tax exempt status. Do some research please. If the Hebrew Center is tax exempt and I think they are then the Rabbi has put her center in jeopardy. I do not think there will be a consequence but before you put up phony examples try to get the facts. I am not talking abut church state separation I am talking about IRS exemptions. The Hebrew Center has been left wing for years and that is fine but the Rabbi should be told to be careful on the exemption issue.

  3. No Rabbi Broitman. This was an act of a piece-of-crap 100% anti-Semite. My fear is that by teaching your flock to point fingers at Trump they will be blind to the next anti-Semite intent on hurting them, God forbid. Americans appreciate straight talk. Call a duck a duck. America is blessed in that there is so little real antisemitism there. If you call out antisemitism for what it is–Jew hatred–the vast majority of Americans of all faiths will stand beside you. Calling this act a result of “politics of fear and hatred” is off the mark. “Everything?” No. Politics had absolutely nothing to do with Pittsburgh. Their dear souls of blessed memory should not be offered up on the altar of anti-Trump-ism.

  4. It is very disappointing when the leader of the island’s Jewish community fails us all by neglecting to talk about the growing anti-Semitism that is so prevalent now in this country and on the island. I have experienced anti-Semitic sentiment on the island, both blatant and covert, and as long as it isn’t openly and publicly discussed, it becomes more and more acceptable. It is a shame that Andrew used the Rabbi’s feelings about the massacre for something so small-mindedly inappropriate.

  5. Andrew, I did some research, as you suggested. According to the US Internal Revenue Code that allows for federal tax exemption of nonprofit organizations, 501c3, “Intervention in political campaigns or the endorsement/anti-endorsement of candidates for public office is strictly prohibited.” ( Trump is not a candidate. As he holds an office, he is not immune from either endorsement or criticism. Religious leaders, either ordained or lay, can and do praise Trump quite vocally. Religious leaders are also permitted to criticize him. This does not violate their 501c3 status. I bring the following here, now, even if it appears to be far afield of the thread topic.
    There are 84,706 of Christian advocacy groups and churches that are 501c3 exempt. There are 4,421 such Jewish organizations, too. Not all are synagogues. There are 2,644 Religious Media Group exemptions. A group need not be a church or an advocacy group for 501c3 exemption. Lobbying is also permitted, “Both direct and grassroots, is allowable, but should not represent more than 10-20% of the organization’s activities, nor consume any more than 10-20% of the resources of the organization.” Politics and religion are forever linked in the United States. They are one and the same. That’s not a bad thing. I propose it’s actually good. There is a lot of antisemitism in the US. Unfortunately, much of it comes from the Jeffress “condemn Jews and others to hell crowd” (some of whom enjoy 501c3 exemptions as listed above) and vocally support Trump – as they are entitled to do.

Comments are closed.