By: TFN Staff

On the morning of Oct. 27, a gunman opened fire on worshipers attending Shabbat services inside the historic Tree of Life synagogue in the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Squirrel Hill.

Eleven people were killed and a number of others injured, including first responders.

It is difficult to find words that can serve as a balm for this type of pain and loss. In the face of unthinkable violence, growing anti-Semitism and racism, and what feels like an onslaught of anti-immigrant and xenophobic statements and actions, it is understandable how we can turn to despair and hopelessness.

And yet we believe the antidote to these responses—to the powerlessness so many of us feel right now—is to realize that we do have power. Our power, as individuals and institutions, is in standing up for what is right, regardless of what is happening around us.

We at the Funders’ Network grieve with the family members and friends of those who were killed in this senseless act of hate.  We stand vigil for those injured — not only physically but emotionally — in the community of Squirrel Hill and the larger Jewish community. We also extend our deepest gratitude to the first responders risked their lives to protect their community.

We encourage you to take time to read these heartfelt responses to the Tree of Life massacre from leaders in the philanthropic sector.

Jewish Funders Network: A Tree of Life, and Light for Joy: Philanthropy After Terror

“Philanthropy comes from two Greek works, philos and anthropos: love and humanity. Being a Jewish philanthropist is having a love for humanity that forms concentric circles: expanding outward from our own to reach the world. Philanthropy starts with the emotion of love, so it’s necessary that we react to Pittsburgh with emotions: anger, grief, disbelief and outrage.

But funders are also communal leaders. Whether they ask for it or not, they are in the drivers’ seats of many communal programs and policies. In this time of anguish and fear, people will look to us for support, resources, and guidance. They will seek our empathy but also our calming leadership. So we need to give time and space for our emotions, but simultaneously, we need to seek a thoughtful and strategic response to this tragedy.”

Heinz Endowment: We Are The Cure

“There is a sickness in the human heart, and love is the cure. Coming together in community is the cure. Embracing each other in all our differences as one people—that, most assuredly, is the cure. But love comes with accountability. It demands more and better of us than indifference and silence. “We see the world not as it is,” the Talmud teaches, “but as we are.” The gunman who took so many lives on Saturday saw the world not as it really is, not even remotely, but through the hellish lens of his own twisted fantasies. We can only create the alternative by being the alternative—by being the tolerant, loving, inclusive and, yes, mutually accountable people we aspire to be and know we must become.”

Pittsburgh Foundation: Statement on Squirrel Hill Synagogue Shooting

“While the person arrested in this shooting may come from our region, he represents the dark opposite of what our community is about. As Pittsburghers, our hearts are crushed, but our spirits will never be. Our foundation pledges to help this community come together across varying backgrounds and political ideologies to grieve, confront the ravages of hateful speech and political rhetoric that can lead to such violence and demonstrate the unity that is the first step toward healing.”

The Nathan Cummings Foundation: President’s Statement

“Every day, in houses of worship all over the country, communities gather to pray, to grieve, to celebrate and to love. This is not the first time that people in a house of worship were murdered in an act of terror by an American white supremacist. The Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin and Mother Emanuel, in Charleston, South Carolina, the oldest African Methodist Episcopal church in the Southern U.S. experienced the terror of a person armed with a gun and hate opening fire. And just days ago, a gunman murdered two Black elders at a Louisville grocery store after being denied entry at a predominantly Black church nearby.

This vile act of hate and violence, though it targeted the Jewish community, was not only about anti-Semitism. 

This was about emboldened white nationalism and those who are fighting for an America where only white, Christian, heterosexual people belong and are deserving of a place in our society. This was about the increasingly-dangerous political rhetoric that seeks to dehumanize, divide and isolate. We all have a responsibility to denounce this and stand together to defeat it.

This was also about radical solidarity. It targeted Jews advocating for the rights of refugees and immigrants, those fleeing crises for a safe haven here. This act was meant to divide and isolate us but it has only made us come together more strongly and with more resolve.”

Hyam Foundation: A Message From The Hyams Foundation

“A senseless murder of two African-Americans at a grocery store in Kentucky fueled by white supremacy and a fear of the “other”.  A series of bombs mailed to political and media figures. A mass shooting in the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh that claimed 11 lives in what the Anti-Defamation League called “the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the history of the United States.”

These horrific events—carried out over the course of only days—fit the terrifying and vicious political atmosphere presided over by President Trump; an atmosphere in which organized hate has become the norm; an atmosphere in which rabid nationalism, anti-immigrant sentiments, and patriarchy have become the dominant political rhetoric.  Make no mistake about it: this is an alarming attempt to keep “outsiders” at bay and aid the rise of white supremacy.”

Living Cities: Love and Hate – A Statement from Living Cities

“Last week, and indeed for the last few years, those words “It never stops” have been uttered over and over again at Living Cities. Perhaps you have said them too, shaking your head. But all of us have the power to contribute to making it stop. We are all part of the same system and every day we have the choice to change the parts of the system that we uniquely play a role in. We can stop being passive, often silent observers when we see and hear hate. We can stand in solidarity with people who are being oppressed; people who have been victimized by racism and violence: our loved ones, our neighbors, our colleagues at the desk across from ours or across the country. We can vote and hold our elected officials accountable to the values of equity, inclusion, tolerance and love. We can ask ourselves every day what more we can do to make it stop. We started writing this piece to show Living Cities’ love for Kellie. And, after this weekend, we include in this message all who are in pain. We have to do better together.”

Barr Foundation: We Must All Stand Up

“More than ever, we have an obligation to be present, to stand up and be counted, and to meet the challenge of this moment head on. For those of us in philanthropy, we must determine what of our resources, power, and voice we will deploy. We may feel our greatest contribution is to speak out in defense of the ideals and values our country stands upon. We may be focused on ensuring our partners on the front lines have the support they need to face these crises. Or both. And more.”

The San Fransisco Foundation: FAITHS Statement and Call To Action

“As we grieve for our brothers and sisters killed at the Pittsburgh synagogue and for Maurice Stallard and Vickie Jones murdered at a Kroger grocery store in Kentucky, we express our deepest condolences to their families and friends. We also recommit ourselves to building a beloved community where we are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers and allies. Our shared humanity and solidarity across different racial, ethnic, and religious communities is what binds us together and inspires us to move toward the promise of a brighter peaceful future.

We, like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., have decided to stick with love because as he said, “Hate is too great a burden to bear…hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

We raise our voices along with others across the country to call for an end to this violence and dehumanizing rhetoric that divides us. We believe strongly that your voice, your actions, and your vote can bring about change.”

 If you’d like to add your organization’s statement to this list, please email Marci Ovadia at