Dean Mark Orten’s Message in Response to the Killings in Pittsburgh

To the Middlebury community,

It is difficult to put into words the anguish and heartbreak so many of us feel at the horrific killings at the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh on Saturday. It was an attack on the Jewish people, on the spirit of our nation, and on humanity itself.

At this time, our thoughts go out to the people of Pittsburgh. For anyone in our community in need of support, I urge you to reach out to advisors, counselors, deans, chaplains, or any others who are available to support you.

Tragically, this is the kind of event, fueled by hatred, that we experience too often. Only days earlier, we were trying to comprehend the unfathomable act of mailing of pipe bombs to political figures and the media, or how we could stand collectively against efforts to exclude and marginalize individuals because of their gender identification.

It is understandable if members of our community experience these days as a time of sorrow.

And yet we must resist the pull of hopelessness.

We are not and can never be a perfect community, but we are a community united by firm belief in human dignity, and we stand against all acts of hatred and violence including, in particular at this time, acts motivated by religious bigotry and anti-Semitism. We stand with all of our Jewish companions, families, friends, and neighbors in their right to be safe without defense, and to conduct their religious observances in peace.

In this moment, let us re-commit to full inclusion of all religions, races, sexes, gender expressions, sexual orientations, and abilities. And let us always speak up against hateful and discriminatory speech or actions, wherever they occur.

Let me close by saying, in the tradition of the Jewish people, may the memory of the victims of Saturday’s shooting be a blessing for their loved ones and the world.

Wishing you peace,

Mark Orten
Dean / Director
Charles P. Scott Center for Spiritual and Religious Life

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