Attack on Pittsburgh Synagogue Was Attack on All of Us

The infamous Pittsburgh synagogue massacre that killed 11 Jewish worshipers celebrating the Sabbath and the formal naming of a baby was an attack on all of us. The shooting took place literally in Mr. Rogers's neighborhood, aimed in pure hate at a community observing the Sabbath and engaged in prayer.
 
Like the mass murders at the First Baptist church in Sutherland Springs, Texas and the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, the gunman sought to undermine the freedom of religion that defines our nation. The pattern expands to two African-American Kroger shoppers shot and killed in Louisville because of their race, the recent memory of the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, and a mail bomber's attempt to kill or maim American leaders over their politics.
 
Our nation stands at a precipice, our freedoms at risk because of extremists. Anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry are on the rise. No gunman can supersede faith or destroy a spirit of community, but the man who opened fire could and did decimate a congregation, indelibly harm families, wreak havoc on our expectations of what is off limits, and propel a nation into mourning.
 
The labor movement takes these attacks personally. We are privileged to be at the forefront of trying to build a better society, no matter the obstacles or outrages, and that makes this tragedy hurt all the more. We want to speak up together at workplaces, on peaceful streets, at the polls, and occasionally even at the pulpits. Now, we grieve again.
Sadly, the question "Can it happen here?" keeps getting answered in the affirmative. Yet in the worst of tragedies light always shines through the cracks. The strength of the Pittsburgh community and near-universal solidarity suggest bonding forces can address almost anything, even broken hearts. 
 
The hatred amply demonstrated by the shooter well before Saturday's attacks hits home for me personally. A major target of his ire, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, was set up in the 1800s to help refugees get established in the U.S. The organization's motto is "Welcome the stranger. Protect the refugee." 
My grandfather, who arrived at age 17 on Ellis Island from Lithuania in 1905, benefited from a similar fraternal organization originally created to help refugees from the Revolution of 1848 in Europe. He remained in that organization throughout his life and helped immigrants who came after him. The societies that help immigrants from around the world embody the principle of paying it forward. They are founded upon gratitude for the opportunity our nation provides and the desire to spread that opportunity. Hatred of the HIAS mission is nothing less than hatred of our "nation of immigrants."