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Orlando Jewish groups respond to shooting with sadness, calls to action

(JTA) — Jewish groups in Orlando responded to the mass shooting attack at the Pulse nightclub with messages of sadness and sympathy, and calls to action.

“The Jewish community has been impacted many times by terror attacks, and we stand united in denouncing all violence,” said a statement released by the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando. The statement signed by Rhonda Forest, chair of the Board, and Olga Yorish, executive director, extended condolences to all those in the Greater Orlando community affected by the act of terror.  It ended by encouraging members of the Jewish community: “If you see something, say something.”

The Rosen Jewish Community Center’s message extended sympathies to those affected by Sunday morning’s attack: “We pray for the victims, their families and loved ones.” The message said the JCC is working with the Southwest Orlando Jewish Congregation to organize a community prayer vigil for later this week.

The message on the Congregation of Reform Judaism in Orlando Facebook page signed by the congregation’s clergy, professional staff and board president expressed sympathy: “Orlando – The City Beautiful – has always had the reputation as one of the most welcoming and hospitable cities in the world. Its diversity and sense of hachnasat orchim (welcoming the stranger) are legendary. It is the city where hopes are built and dreams are made.” The message continued: “Today our hearts are torn for those whose lives were cut short too soon, for their families, for those wounded in the attack and for yet another horrific, senseless tragedy that attempts to rip the very fabric of our society and the importance of chesed (loving kindness).”

The University of Central Florida Hillel Facebook page reminded its followers that the attack took place in a nightclub, and called for the whole community to keep on dancing in support of the victims. “As a community, we are still reeling from the brutal mass murder of Israelis at Sarona in Tel Aviv earlier this week by Palestinian terrorists. Terrorism, whether foreign or domestic, is still terrorism and we must stand steadfast, shoulder to shoulder with its victims just as we stand resolutely against its perpetrators,” read the message.

“In this case, as with the case in the Dolphinarium night club in Tel Aviv when Palestinian terrorists brutally murdered nearly two dozen youth in a night club, the mantra came out (and quickly became a hit song): ‘Don’t stop dancing!’ The answer to this sickening terrorist attack at the Pulse is thus to quickly clean up the place and hold an even bigger dance party where the whole community (gay, allies or otherwise) comes together to say to the haters ‘we won’t stop dancing.’”

A later post by Hillel encouraged people to donate blood to help the victims.

Early Sunday morning the Miami-based Consul General of Israel to Florida and Puerto Rico in a post on Facebook sent “condolences to the community that has been affected by the tragic mass shooting. We stand in solidarity with the Florida LBGT community against this terror attack.”

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