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Pelavin: "No mother should ever have to face the inestimable hardship of losing her husband and children in one instant, nor should parents have to mourn the loss of a child. "
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Washington, D.C., March 19, 2012: In response to the tragic shooting at the Ozar Hatorah school in Toulouse, France, this morning, Mark Pelavin, Associate Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, released the following statement:
"We stand in shock, sadness, and solidarity with the Jewish community of Toulouse, France. The unprovoked attack that occurred at the Ozar Hatorah school is a tragedy for the families and friends of the victims, but it is tragedy for us as well. We say, Kol Yisrael areivim zeh la-zeh (all Jews are responsible for one another, and we share the pain of our brothers and sisters half a world away.
The expectation of a school being a safe haven has once again been shattered. This violent act has already taken four lives, a rabbi and his two children and the daughter of the Ozar Hatorah school principal, and the life of a 17-year old boy currently hangs in the balance. No mother should ever have to face the inestimable hardship of losing her husband and children in one instant, nor should parents have to mourn the loss of a child.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims and survivors. As we embrace those families, we urgently hope for an end to the violence in Southern France, which has also taken the lives of three French soldiers in the last 10 days. In a world of rich and diverse religious and ethnic traditions, let us lift up our differences and accept the notion that a peaceful coexistence is attainable across the globe.
As we go through our daily lives, it is often easy to feel as though hatred against Jews has been eliminated; this senseless attack is jarring and an all-too-real reminder that the ugly blight of anti-Semitism still thrives. France is home to an estimated 600,000 Jews, the largest Jewish community in Europe. There have been a number of anti-Semitic attacks in recent years, including the desecration of a Jewish cemetery in Strasbourg with swastikas, an arson attack at the Merkaz Hatorah school in Gagny, and the brutal kidnapping, torture and murder of Ilan Halimi, a young Jewish man from Paris.
We are confident in the commitment shown by the French government in addressing this national tragedy and wait for the perpetrators to be brought to justice. We utter a prayer of healing, a Mi Sheberach, for the survivors and, with our French brothers and sisters, Jewish and otherwise, we pray that one day violence will cease and peace shall be the cry heard throughout all nations."