My Cousin's Bat Mitzvah Changed My Perspective On The Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting

My Cousin's Bat Mitzvah Changed My Perspective On The Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting

It's hard to be happy and celebrate on a day when so many lost their lives in their place of worship doing the same exact thing we were.


I went down to DC for the weekend for my cousin's Bat Mitzvah. As my aunt was sitting in her hair salon chair, getting ready and stressing over her daughter's big day, she got a call from the Rabbi telling her that eleven people were killed in a hate crime shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. The Rabbi reassured her not to worry, that they would tighten the security during the service later that day.

In a country where we're supposed to have freedom of religion, these people fell victim to a horrendous anti-semitic act when they were just trying to practice their faith. Hateful prejudice leading to violence, like Saturday's Pittsburgh shooting, is unfortunately not a new concept, and yet sitting there in the synagogue that day, surrounded by loved ones, I had a whole new perspective when reflecting on the tragedy.

Saturday was not only a milestone in my cousin's life, but for me, it was the first time in a while my whole family had been together. Needless to say, it was a happy occasion, but it's hard to be happy and celebrate on a day when so many lost their lives in their place of worship doing the same exact thing we were.

Although I always felt pretty invincible living my day to day life, this year had me starting to question my safety in school. A synagogue should be a safe space as well, but instead, here I was celebrating my cousin's big day with two DC cops stationed outside the building during the service. Even though it was a precautionary measure, it's incredibly sad that this would be considered necessary let alone something that one would even think to have.

Then there's the issue of Trump saying that gun laws have "little to do with it," placing the blame on the victims by claiming that "if they had some kind of protection inside the temple, maybe it could've been a much different situation." Victim blaming is never the answer. A synagogue is a place of worship, of community, and these people had their innocence so brutally transgressed. On top of that, to have our own president pin fault onto those who played no role in deserving, nor causing such violence, speaks volumes to the state of our nation today. It should go without saying, but guns and hate are both all too prevalent in our culture, and together they create a bad combination of bias and violence.

It is saddening to step back and realize that these events have become all too familiar to us, and that after each tragedy, we become slowly desensitized to the violence. This is one of the scariest parts, because each act of violence, stigmatized through social media platforms, spark even more by causing others to do the same. Sandy Hook. Aurora. San Bernardino. Orlando. Parkland. As the list grows, it is important to remember these victims instead of putting the shooters on a platform. More importantly, gun violence is an epidemic that must be stopped, and this can't be realized if we blame the victims.

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Customer Service Expert, Gary Brewster of Oneida Provides Tips for Displaying Appreciation to Your Customers

By taking a more direct and proactive approach to managing your customers, you can open up a new avenue of success for your business.


Customer relationships are a core part of your business success. Many businesses that outperform their competitors are just more responsive in this area. By taking a more direct and proactive approach to managing your customers, you can open up a new avenue of success for your business. How can you display genuine appreciation to them? Here are tips and practices from customer service expert and accomplished entrepreneur, Gary Brewster in Oneida, Tennessee that you can adopt.

Event Sponsorship

There are many small signs of appreciation you can show to customers, but hosting an event provides significant evidence to customers that your business genuinely acknowledges and cares for their support. With these events, you can treat customers as guests - which can be a great way to elevate your relationship with them. After these events, you can follow-up with your customers, build upon that relationship, and gain additional insights into their expectations.

Customized Products and Services

Customers will be pleasantly surprised to see products specifically catered to their preferences. This shows that you do respond to their feedback and are appreciative of the information they provide. Also, you are reinforcing the fact that your business firmly puts a priority on their needs and is committed to elevating their experience. You can personalize your products through a couple of means, including offering them in certain colors, modifications, labels, and more.

Use Handwritten Notes

A handwritten note is one of the best ways to convey authenticity in your messages. When you use this medium for sending messages of appreciation to your customers, it generates a more positive response. In a world saturated with emails, social media messages, and mobile text, a handwritten letter can stand out. You can work with your team in organizing a schedule where customers are sent handwritten notes. These can especially work great for the holiday season as customers are more receptive to goodwill messages during this time.

Develop a Loyalty Program

While your business benefits form loyalty programs, they also make the customer feel more appreciated. For your most consistent customers, you are sending the message to them that their loyalty has not gone unnoticed and that you are truly grateful. When repeat business is rewarded, the long-term benefits will be valuable. Instead of merely creating a loyalty program from scratch, consider doing research and recognize specific purchasing patterns within your customer base. You can then highlight certain products they favor and make that the focal point of your loyalty program.

When it comes to maintaining a high standard of customer service, communication and goodwill are valuable. Showing appreciation to your customers is more than simply communicating with them, but also conveying a general sense of commitment to their needs. Your business stands to gain immensely by developing this unique approach to customer service. Consider adding more of these elements as you build your customer service strategy with your team.

About Gary Brewster:

Gary Brewster in Oneida, Tennessee is an entrepreneur and commercial roofing expert. Driven by building excellent relationships, he takes pride in providing the best customer service possible. As a business owner, his goals include delivering exceptional service, solving complex problems, and giving back to the community. Outside of the office, Gary enjoys spending time on his family farm with his wife, children, and grandchildren.

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My Hometown Just Experienced A Mass Shooting, If We Don't Do Something, Yours Could Be Next

You never think it will happen to you until it does.


I was on my way out the door to work when I got a panicked call from my mother.

"Can you look at the news online?" she said quickly. "There is a mass shooting somewhere nearby."

My heart stopped. For me, Aurora, Illinois is home. I was born there, I grew up around the area and I attended high school there. My siblings go to school close by and my boyfriend works for a neighboring fire department.

How could my beloved hometown become the victim of the latest tragedy?

After calling my boyfriend, who was at the fire station getting ready to deploy ambulances to the scene, I discovered that it had taken place at a factory nearby. My anxiety hit an all-time high as I watched the updates on all of the local city Facebook pages and groups. Officers down. Gunman at large. Mass casualties.

Hours later, all of the facts came out. A former employee of Henry Pratt's Company, a local industrial warehouse, had recently been let go and decided to get revenge. He entered the warehouse with a gun and began to shoot at random, killing five people and wounding many others, including five police officers. He was killed by local SWAT forces.

I am the kind of person who is pro-gun and pro-gun rights because of the second amendment and all of the freedoms I believe we deserve. But that doesn't make what happened okay and it never will.

While this situation doesn't change my mind, it does change my view of the world.

Why would somebody decide that shooting former coworkers was the way to go? Why would anyone want to hurt others? These are the questions that flooded my mind in the hours after the mass shooting. I don't necessarily think we have a gun issue in America, but issues with mental health and valuing life.

We pass bills to kill unborn children. We repeal bills that take away healthcare from million. We devalue life in its most basic form and respect those around us to still have enough respect for each other's lives. We stigmatize those who need psychiatric care and expect things to still be alright.

This is not alright.

Our country, our system, our values, and morals, they are all broken and backward. We have let mass shootings become normal and violence becomes accepted. It needs to be stopped. There needs to be a change.

One of the people killed was an intern from a local college during his first day on the job. Being a college student applying to internships myself, this hit far too close to home. Nobody deserves to die, least of all in their place of work while trying to further their career.

Five people lost their lives due to someone's disrespect of them. Yes, a gun was the weapon, but a mind was the actor. I pray that someday, our country will return to valuing life and respecting others enough to help them instead of pushing them away. This is not the first mass shooting, but it can be the last. If, and only if, we make sure of it.

If you want to help the victim's families in any way, a GoFundMe page has been set up to help with funeral expenses

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