Tree of Life tragedy

Tree of Life tragedy

Dear colleagues:

I’m sure that all of you are reeling, as I am, from the shocking killings at

The Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. Again, hate has brought tragedy into our lives.

Our hearts go out to our colleagues, students, and friends who are so deeply affected by this terrifying loss. It is a grim and sickening reminder that anti-Semitism still lives in our country, and that a national rhetoric of hatred and fear can unleash it so easily.

It is especially tragic that this heinous hate crime was committed in a place of worship, a place that is supposed to be for its participants a sanctuary, a place for quiet, for reflection and renewal, for spiritual community with like-minded others—in short a place where people should feel safe. And we are reminded of so many other violations of sanctuary of this kind: the man who shot two African Americans at Krogers in Louisville recently had tried to enter an African American church first, and we have seen deaths at the AME church in Charleston and of Sikhs who were killed at their place of worship in Milwaukee.

We know that hate is fed with fear and resentment of others who are perceived as threats. And many of us have experienced personally the effects of someone’s hatred in our daily lives or the lives of people close to us. We know firsthand how words have power—both to hurt and to heal.

Let us renew our resolve to use our words—our knowledge, our ability to listen and talk and help people heal—to repair the world, or in Hebrew, “tikkun olam,” in a fitting tribute to our Jewish brothers and sisters. Tikkun olam requires us to open our hearts and minds to the grief and pain of others, and to reach out in community and to bond in humanity as we challenge hate wherever we find it, using all of the tools we have, personally and professionally.

Both the APA website and our SCP website have lists of resources for helping us repair the world. Please use them. And lastly, don’t let your own fear and despair and feelings of hopelessness prevent you from going to the polls and voting. It may be flawed, but it is still one of the few good ways we have to repair our world by using our collective voice.

In sympathy for us and our world,

President, Society of Counseling Psychology, Division 17 of the American Psychological Association

With Cirleen DeBlaere, VP for Diversity and Public Interest and Louise Douce, VP for Communication, and the SCP Executive Board

Please see here for a response from the American Psychological Association


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