Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church

Bishop Jimmy Nunn Response to Tree of Life Shooting


Tree of Life Synagogue, Pittsburgh
I write filled with the feeling of dismay, as once again, senseless violence has struck a community of faith in the United States.  The Tree of Life Synagogue in the division of Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh was attacked last weekend and as of this writing, eleven people were murdered.  Please join me in condemning this violent expression of hatred. 
Words of condemnation have their place.  But in the context of this era, a greater understanding of others is also needed.  As I perused the webpage and read articles written by the Rabbi, I gained an appreciation for the faithful people of the Tree of Life Synagogue and the spiritual leadership of its Rabbi, Jeffrey Myers. 
Rabbi Myers offers insightful reflections in his articles found on their website:  https://www.tolols.org/  In his July 19, 2018 article, he reflects on local acts of violence against people and the way the American public typically responds.  He writes, “I recall seeing a post not long ago that rather accurately describes the life cycle of news, and I paraphrase to the best of my recollection: Tragic event – Thoughts and Prayers – Call to Action by our Elected Leaders – Hang Wringing – Next News Event.”
Rabbi Myers shared keen observations. How could he know that within two months, he and the synagogue he served would experience the trauma of a horrible attack?
In his October 16, 2018 article, Rabbi Myers writes about the end of life and the difficult journey we navigate after death.  He writes, “For those who mourn the loss of a friend, the big questions of our existence come to the forefront:

  • What has my purpose been on this planet?
  • Have I been a good-enough parent/spouse/sibling?
  • Have I been the best me that I could possibly be?
Rabbi Myers then shared a story from the Talmud of Zusha, the great Chassidic master, who lay crying on his deathbed. His students asked him, "Rebbe, why are you so sad? After all the mitzvot and good deeds you have done, you will surely get a great reward in heaven!"  "I'm afraid!" said Zusha. "Because when I get to heaven, I know God's not going to ask me 'Why weren't you more like Moses?' or 'Why weren't you more like King David?' But I'm afraid that God will ask 'Zusha, why weren't you more like Zusha?' And then what will I say?!"
The website of the Tree of Life Synagogue now has a banner that says the following: “We are humbly moved by the outreach of support for our synagogue while we mourn the loss of our congregants in the wake of the horrific anti-Semitic attack on our religious home.” The website for the Tree of Life Synagogue is https://www.tolols.org/”.
You may also give through the Oklahoma Annual Conference. 
Questions of faith are quite similar, although answers of faith vary.  May we find ways to live more like the people we really are.  “What will I say?”
Jimmy Nunn


Making Disciples of Jesus Christ for the Transformation of the World

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