“On a day like today, there are no words to respond, we cry. Our hearts and prayers go out to the victims and their families,” wrote Rabbi Zev Johnson, Chabad representative to the University of Texas.
Johnson was responding to students after Tuesday morning’s bloodbath in a Jerusalem synagogue in which five Jews were murdered while praying. “It’s a tough time, but lets act with courage and act in the way we must, as well as say a prayer in the meantime, for peace. Please feel free to be in touch if you have any feelings, concerns, or just need a lending ear, someone to be able to listen to you. We are here for you.”
Like other Chabad representatives, Johnson looks to precedent to guide him at a time like this. Back in 1956 when Arab terrorists murdered five students and their teacher at a Chabad school in Israel, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, urged those suffering from the trauma to regroup, not to allow the tragedy to demoralize them, but rather to find ways to grow from it.
“Please take a moment today to bring some extra light into the world,” wrote the Chabad representatives to S. Monica University in California in their message to students. “If you’d like to put up a mezuzah, just tell us where to meet you. Guys, if you’d like to put on Tefillin please come by Chabad at SMC and I’d be happy to help you out, or let me know where to meet you on campus and I’d be happy to come to you.”
For students at the University of Kansas, the tragedy hit close to home. One of the victims, Rabbi Kalman Levine, was a Kansas City, Missouri, native. “We’re all in pain. We’re all stunned. Our fellow Jews murdered in cold blood while praying,’ wrote the Chabad representatives to the university. “Most of us are thousands of miles away; yet our very being cries out: What can I do to help?”
Their message to students was to take on a mitzvah, do a good deed. “A G-dly deed has the power to reach deep into the core of our being – where we are all one. At this core, a positive deed on our part can help bring peace and goodness to this troubled world,” they wrote in their message. “What better way to honor the souls of those who have passed and those who still need to recover, for the merit of the 26 children who became orphans this morning, than to bring even more goodness and G-dliness into our hurting world.”
Students, alumni and Kansas locals took up mitzvahs. Paul Brick wrote on the Facebook page dedicated to this, that he “will break the distance with a family member, and try to come closer to the precious people in my life.”
Annabella Zighelboim posted that she will light candles this Friday night in honor of the victims and their families, and recite verses from Psalms in their merit. Others pledged to give extra charity and others to spend more time in prayer.