The horrific mass killing at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh on Saturday, October 27, as well as the murders of two African-American shoppers by a white male on October 24 at a Kroger's supermarket in Kentucky, has resulted in a lot of profound thinking from all quarters of our society. Following are statements from two people related in some fashion to the meetings industry that were of particular importance to me.

Jordan Rudner, who works at Abused Women’s Aid in Crisis, in Anchorage, Alaska, and is the daughter of meetings industry attorney Steven Rudner, shared this thoughtful piece on the tragedy:

“One other thing I’m thinking about is this: For the first decade or so of my life, almost everybody in my life was Jewish. That is no longer even close to true. One of my favorite things to do is introduce my non-Jewish friends to the best parts of what our religion and culture have to offer. My parents have welcomed strangers into their home for Seder and Shabbat. So have I. So has everyone I know.

"If you are a non-Jew who has experienced Jewish hospitality—enjoyed challah on Fridays or spent the night in a sukkah or had matzah ball soup—it is important to me that you recognize that the mass shooting yesterday, and the subsequent terror and despair felt by every Jewish community across the country and worldwide, are also, inextricably, part of the deal. If you’ve danced the hora at a wedding or bar mitzvah, think of how you might demonstrate solidarity to those who invited you in the door.

"I am lucky enough to be Jewish, which means a lot of things.

"It means I light candles for Hanukkah. It means that my parents taught me, from when I was very small, that I had a moral obligation to help people, to help fix the world in some capacity. It means I get a loud, hilarious family that argues privately, and sometimes publicly, about every topic under the sun.

"It also means that I have memories of Parents’ Night at my Jewish day school being cancelled because someone called in a bomb threat. I remember when they installed extra security on our campus after threats did not stop.

"I remember learning about Kristallnacht, and about the Holocaust, and then about Jews killed for their Judaism this year, and every year. I have had anti-Semitism expressed directly to me, by people who did not know I was Jewish and people who did, extremely recently.

"There’s something about an attack on members of your community, one enacted BECAUSE the victims were members of your community, that feels personal and enraging and particularly, viciously awful. I don’t think I always remember that. I don’t think in the past I have always checked in with friends of my own who are members of minority communities of which I am not a part, even when those friends weren’t the ones most directly affected, to express sorrow, solidarity and community. Or even to let them know I care.

"I’m going to try to be much better about that from now on.

"For right now, I will just say that if you’re not Jewish, and you aren’t sure if you should say something, I implore you to get over that fear.”

Sherrif Karamat, CEO of PCMA, gave Meetings Today permission to use his words and the wonderful quote from Fred Rogers (z”l) who had lived in Squirrel Hill, the neighborhood of the synagogue massacre.

Editor's Note: Quote from Fred Rogers used for main image on the related blog post.

Sherrif Karamat, CEO, PCMA

“I reach out today because I thought that your heart might be heavy, too, after the recent tragic events in the United States. PCMA is a community and, even more, we are a family. When tragedy strikes, it affects us all.

"We stand with those in Jeffersontown, Ky., and at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. While we cannot bring back those who were lost, we can remain firm in our resolve to eliminate hatred and violence in the world.

"Especially in days like these, I think about the power of meeting face to face. This is how we will transcend and eliminate barriers that may keep us apart.

"I assure you that PCMA will remain committed to its mission of bringing people together, driving social transformation, and keeping our workplaces and events safe and welcoming.

"Together we can heal and make the world a better place.

Sherrif Karamat, CAE
President and CEO, PCMA

Related Reading From the November 2018 Edition of Friday With Joan

Click here to view additional content in the 11.02.18 Friday With Joan newsletter.