Dear Fellow Alumni,
The senseless and tragic shooting at the Chabad of Poway Synagogue in California on Saturday was yet another in an ongoing series of attacks on houses of worship – Jewish, Christian and Muslim – throughout the world in recent days. Once again we grieve for the killed and injured while we honor those who responded with bravery to stop the carnage. On Saturday, the victim and the hero were the same person, Lori Gilbert-Kaye. And this time she was a member of the Up with People community.
Lori was an alumna who travelled in 76A. She lived in Poway with her family where she was a long-time member of the Chabad congregation. Today we mourn her death and pray for her family. We also honor her valor and act of courage as it was reported that she stepped in to protect her Rabbi. When we heard I reached out to fellow alumnus Rabbi Mo Salth for his guidance. Below is part of his response which I hope you will find comforting:
It is widely understood in Judaism that the most important action one can take is to save another person’s life. It is called in Hebrew, pikuach nefesh. Lori died as she was trying to save the rabbi and therefore she died in the midst of fulfilling the highest act of goodness in Jewish tradition – and we know saving life is a value Jews share with many religions and cultures throughout the world. When a loved one dies it is customary to say about them – May her memory always be for blessing – in Hebrew for a woman, zichrona livracha. Lori’s life no doubt will always be known as one that was filled with blessing.
Many of you have posted comments and memories on Facebook. As we remember Lori and think of her family, it reminds us how important our shared experience in Up with People was in helping overcome hate by forging respect, trust and understanding across the divides of religion, race, nationality and ideology. And we are grateful for the many in our Up with People community who, like Lori, continue to live out those values and build bridges of peace in their daily lives.
Thank you all.
– President & CEO, Dale Penny
Can we sing a song of peace
When they’re knocking down the doors?
Can you hold an olive branch
And hang on to what is yours?
Till the weapons that destroy
Go to join the dinosaurs
Will there still be hope at least
If we sing a song of peace?
Can We Sing a Song of Peace? © Up with People
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Up with People is a global education organization which aims to bring the world together through service and music. The unique combination of international travel, service learning, leadership development and performing arts offers young adults an unparalleled study abroad experience and a pathway to make a difference in the world, one community at a time. Click here to learn more about the internationally acclaimed program, Up with People.