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President's Blog: From the Heart

Standing in Solidarity

By Eric F. Spina

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

Words cannot express my deepest sorrow over the senseless loss of life at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue this weekend in what’s believed to be the deadliest attack on Jews in American history. Any of us who have been in Squirrel Hill (adjacent to Carnegie Mellon University) know it to be a peaceful and harmonious community, and it is hard to imagine that such hatred came to roost there on Saturday, visited on a congregation that is dedicated to the love of others.

This tragedy followed another crime of hatred days earlier, when two African-Americans were killed at a grocery store in Kentucky by an attacker who targeted them because of their race. The University of Dayton stands in solidarity with our Jewish and African-American faculty, staff, students, alumni, community partners — and the nation — as we grieve together, pray together, and call for an end to all acts of hate. No person should ever be targeted because of religion, race, gender, or other form of identity. We must always respect each person’s dignity and humanity as well as the sanctity of life.

We are working on ways to remember all of last week's victims and will share information when it becomes available. We will also honor millions of Jews, those who lost their lives in the Holocaust, at 5 p.m., Wednesday, Nov 7, at the Kristallnacht Remembrance Service in the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception. Finally, at 12:15 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 15, we will gather for the monthly “Prayers of the Heart” around the peace pole between the Chapel and St. Mary’s Hall, where we will continue our prayers for peace and an end to violence. All are welcome.

Amidst an increase in anti-Semitic incidents and hate crimes in our country, I’m struck by the words of two holy leaders — one Catholic, one Jewish.

“We are all wounded by this inhumane act of violence,” Pope Francis prayed yesterday morning in St. Peter’s Square. “May the Lord help us to extinguish the outbreaks of hatred that develop in our societies, strengthening the sense of humanity.”

And in the timeless words of Holocaust survivor and humanitarian Elie Wiesel, humanity “must remember that peace is not God’s gift to creatures; peace is our gift to each other.”

I urge all of us in the University of Dayton community to be committed advocates for peace, generously sharing this gift with all whom we encounter, whether family, friend, or stranger.

May God’s peace and love be with you,

Eric F. Spina

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