Response to racism and anti-Semitism

School of Social Work Community:

Please see the below message from Professor Tova Walsh, who shares the sentiments of many of us in the School of Social Work:

In the past week, shootings motivated by racism and anti-Semitism led to the deaths of two Black people in a Kroger grocery store in Louisville and eleven people attending morning prayers at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.

Together with people around the country, many of us in Madison are grieving these devastating losses.  Last night, around 1000 people gathered at First Unitarian Society to mourn the victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting at the “Madison Vigil for Grief and Interfaith Solidarity.”  Local Rabbis and other faith and community leaders addressed the gathering, including leaders of multiple churches and Madison’s Muslim, Latinx, and African American communities.  These leaders voiced our devastation.  They brought the losses to life, speaking about the lives and stories of the victims, their shattered families and communities.  They recognized the fear inflicted by acts of terror, by the targeting of minority communities.  And they heartened us.  Standing together in love and grief, they combined sorrow and rage with hope and purpose.  They showed us the power of showing up for one another, and they emphasized the urgency of not only coming together, but staying together, and channeling our collective grief and fear and anger into action.

The call to action resonated with me on many levels – as an American, as a member of multiple communities including the Madison community and the Jewish community, and as a social worker.  Confronted with divisive rhetoric, violence, and terror, we are called to stand in solidarity and build relationships, to oppose injustice in its many forms, and to take one step at a time toward creating a more equitable and inclusive society.

Jewish tradition teaches: “It is not your responsibility to finish the work, but neither are you free to desist from it” (Pirkei Avot 2:21).  At times we may feel overwhelmed by the challenges of enacting meaningful change in the face of enduring structural injustices and senseless acts of violence; but as social workers, we are committed to working with others to advance social justice and social change.

For those interested, there is a UW Community Vigil for Pittsburgh coordinated by University of Wisconsin Hillel Foundation and Chabad UW Madison on Campus TONIGHT at 7pm, Library Mall.