. . .
In this, Pittsburgh gives me tremendous hope.
At first glance, what happened that terrible day was yet another pogrom. But unlike the countless pogroms in which the surrounding community stood by or abetted the attack, in my hometown, there was solidarity. As Wasi Mohamed, then the head of the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh, pointed out: “Negative rhetoric against the Jewish community is poison. You know, it’s poison for our democracy, it’s poison for our country, and it’s negative to everybody, not just that community.”
Their support, in other words, wasn’t a favor bestowed on us. Our neighbors understood that an attack on the Jewish community was an attack on them, too. That the entire community recited the mourner’s kaddish — and that The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ran the words in Hebrew on the front page — was further evidence that what was being protected by our fellow Americans, wasn’t simply our right to exist. It was our right to lead unashamed, full Jewish lives. Which meant that they could do the same.