The terror attack in Pittsburgh left the entire world aghast, but ever since the horrific event, we have been witness to myriads of public initiatives offering support that just don’t seem to end. One such initiative was the idea of Evyatar and Rachel Hacohen, shlichim (emissaries) of Ohr Torah Stone’s Beren-Amiel Emissary Training Program and the World Zionist Organization working in California, who organized a massive joint prayer for 11 schools from the USA and South America, attended by more than 300 students.
In a conference call which took place this morning (Wednesday), students from each participating school sat in front of computer screens and sang in unison the famous Jewish words commending peace – “Oseh shalom bimromav, hu ya’aseh shalom aleinu ve’al kol Yisra’el” (“He who makes peace in High Places, He will make peace for us and for all of Israel”). Among those taking part in the Hacohen’s initiative were schools from: Montevideo, Mexico, New Jersey, Washington, Massachusetts, Los Angeles, Cleveland and Pittsburgh.
The Hacohens, who are shlichim in Palo-Alto, California, had this to say about the joint prayer initiative: “After the terror attack we contemplated how we as shlichim could help people feel empowered. Instead of focusing solely on the loss and the pain, we wanted people to feel a sense of unity. Through the Beren-Amiel emissary training program we got to know many other shlichim, and thanks to our broad network of connections and in our capacity as educational emissaries we were able to organize not only local events, but something far more encompassing which embraced many communities. In doing so, we were able to express our support of the Pittsburgh community, American Jewry and the entire Jewish People,” said Evyatar.
“We brought together all the schools and sent out a clear message that despite all that has happened, we will continue to grow, we will stand united and spread love among us. More than 300 children sang in unison and conveyed a message of peace and solidarity – and that’s the most important thing.”
Many of OTS’s 290 shlichim from the Beren-Amiel Program (which trains educational emissaries for the Diaspora communities), and the Straus-Amiel Program (which trains rabbis to work in communities across the Diaspora) also held vigils, meetings, prayer sessions and discussions around the world – all with the purpose of enhancing the sense of Jewish unity at this time.
“This is a time to stand together in solidarity in solidarity with the Tree of Life Synagogue and with the entire Pittsburgh community,” said Rabbi Kenneth Brander, President and Rosh HaYeshiva of Ohr Torah Stone. “Kol Yisrael areivim zeh bazeh” – All Jews are responsible for one another. We stand united in times of grief and in times of sorrow; we must stand united in the fight against bigotry and violence, and we will remain united as the community builds toward recovery and strength.”