The JFREJ community grieves for the 50 souls killed at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. We mourn our queer siblings and the beauty and shine they brought to this world. We grieve for the lives they had still to lead and the love they still had in them to give. We grieve for those who loved them deeply who have now lost a part of themselves. Family means many things in queer community, and we offer our deepest sympathies to all of you who were family to those lost.

To those killed in this heartbreaking attack, we honor you for the risks you took boldly, and for the risks placed upon you. For being Black, Brown, Latinx, and Puerto Rican in a racist and colonialist world, for being queer and trans in a society drowning in homophobia and transphobia. We know that queer and trans People of Color communities face the brunt of LGBTQ violence. We pray that one day the safety of queer and trans communities of color will be a given, and we will fight until the thriving of all of these communities is assured.

We pray for a refuah shlemah, a healing of body and of spirit, for those who have survived this attack, and for those all over the country and the world who are deeply impacted by it. We pray for the renewal of safety for those whose safe space has been made a site of unimaginable violence.

Grief can harden us, or it can crack us open. We commit to making this choice: As Jews we refuse the hardening that politicians are forcibly using to demonize our beloved Muslim communities during this time of rawness and loss. We too feel fear from the attack at Pulse nightclub, but we refuse to let that fear be manipulated into hate of other souls, other lives living, other hearts loving. We join hands with our Muslim neighbors, queer and straight, and hold on tight. We know this is dangerous terrain, and we cannot afford to let go.

As we grieve and organize together, we reject the violent calls we are hearing in response to this tragedy -- calls for increased policing of LGBTQ events, increased surveillance of Muslim communities, and increased militarization in our cities and overseas. None of these bring true safety to any people, and they put so many of us at dire risk. We know there is another way.

May our grief and our fear crack us all open to deeper connection and to recognition of our interdependent humanity. May it fuel our fight against racism, homophobia, transphobia, and Islamophobia and make it abundantly clear that no one is made safer by endangering another. With tears, love, and beloved ones hands clenched instead of fists, we struggle on.

Photo by Chris Urso