Our girls at the Lev Lalev Orphanage in Netanya, Israel know what tragedy is in their young lives. In their young lives one or both of their parents have either died or have been institutionalized. They have felt the loss of family, of community, and of neighborhood. So, when they learned of the murder at a synagogue in America, they asked whether they could travel to Jerusalem to pray. They understand that prayer, faith, and a deep sense of spirit can help them cope. Later this week, our high school girls will join with many others at a vigil at the Kotel in Jerusalem. They will pray for the safety of Jews and Jewish communities everywhere, in an act of chessed and tefillah. In their various schools, and the orphanage itself, they are taught that all Jews are responsible for each other. But – their lessons go further than that: They’ve learned that each human being who is lucky enough to make decisions, must reach up to make the world a better place. This is called tikun haolam and it resonates with our girls particularly since they themselves have had so many challenges. Life for them has not been easy and they work hard to improve their own self image and to appreciate all that they have. One of the girls mentioned that her own great-grandmother survived the Holocaust only to be killed by Arab terrorists a few years ago. Like Rose Mallinger, a 97 year old Holocaust survivor who made Pittsburgh her home after immigrating to America in 1948, and whose life was snuffed out by an anti-semite, her only crime was to be Jewish.A cousin of mine wrote a memoir called “The Long and Winding Road.” Yes – he borrowed it from a Beatles song, but the message was it’s tough to be Jewish in a hostile world and we survive day by day through our faith, our devotion, and our desire to do good for others. How special it is that so many people have come together to show their solidarity, their concern, and their support. Our girls at Lev Lalev, too, care deeply, and the Pittsburgh tragedy is their tragedy.

When they have nowhere to turn, who will be there for them?