Reflections on the Tragedy in Highland Park 

July, 2022

Dear Friends, 

We wanted to reach out to our entire community in support of those of you who are from the Chicago area. Monday’s mass shooting in Highland Park has shaken us all. What happens in one neighborhood affects our entire community. So many of us have ties to Highland Park, have memories of each block of restaurants and shops, of spending time with family and friends gathered on the corner and enjoying ourselves. On Monday, Greg and I went to the parade, as we have done every year, Greg since he was a child and I since I met Greg. When they were young, our own children decorated their bikes and rode in the parade. Once, we even shook hands with a young Barak Obama, who walked the Highland Park parade when he was running for U.S. Senator in Illinois. On Monday, just moments before the chaos ensued, I took a picture of Greg’s mom, Susan, smiling as she looked out at the parade, full of joy and pride for our country. She and I both have an overwhelming sensitivity to this parade. The parade begins each year with the first responders, mostly fire engines and ambulances with their families waving from inside and atop their engines, and we are able to cheer and wave to them, to express our gratitude to those who, “as Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering said so eloquently, ‘run to the danger.’” Therefore, It was heart shattering to see, in the very next moment, the fire trucks, police cars and ambulances turn around and race back to the center of downtown toward the danger of the mass shooting. We watched it in real time.

During yesterday’s press conference, one of the responders put it best when he said that he had seen the worst and also the best of humanity in the past 36 hours. It is true. We are seeing the worst of humanity in shooting after mass shooting in our own communities, schools, grocery stores and parade routes. The acts of violence will impact us all. Soon we will all know people who have been hurt or killed in a mass shooting. And some of us will also know the shooters, having sat near them in middle school or lived in a house down the block from them.

We have seen the worst of humanity. I hope that each of us will also act as the best of humanity. Please do not lose hope. If prayer is your thing, please pray for those souls who have been murdered and their family members. And please act. Do not let these issues divide us. Please donate. Please vote. Please advocate in whatever way makes sense to you. As Elie Wiesel, prolific writer and Holocaust survivor famously said, “the opposite of love is not hate, it is indifference.” We have all witnessed these acts of hate. Let us not remain indifferent to these events.

We, the Hillel staff, are here in Madison all summer. We are here as a listening ear, with open hearts and open arms to provide support to you, our community. Please stay in touch. We hope to hear from you.

Sincerely,

Rabbi Andrea Steinberger

And the Hillel Staff Team: Greg Steinberger, Rabbi Judy Greenberg, Micah Ariel-Rohr, Sophie Lainer, David Bookstaff, Tiz Ihnchak, Matt Bernstein and Ana Levy