Hours ago there was an atrocious attack at Parliament that left several people dead and many more injured. Tonight, our thoughts are with everyone who was directly affected by these attacks.

At the time that I am writing this, there is suspicion of terrorism, but details are still coming in and we will certainly be learning more in the coming days. That said, there are a few things that can be said. The first is that any attack on innocent people is a complete violation of our Jewish principles. The Torah teaches that all people were created by God and in God’s image. As God creates human life, God values human life. The sanctity of human life is something that we share with many other religious traditions, including Christianity and Islam. The second is that an attack at our Parliament is an attack, literally and symbolically, on British democracy and by extension British values, including not only democracy but also “the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect for and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs and for those without faith.” No doubt our police and government will be responding to those who are directly responsible for today’s actions. We as a society, though, also have something to do. We can recommit ourselves to those Jewish and British values that are completely opposite to today’s attackers.

There is no replacing the unique, precious lives that were lost today. At the same time, though, by respecting and valuing human life, democracy, the rule of law, liberty, and humanity’s innate diversity, our values are in no way weakened.

May God comfort those who mourn, may God give courage and strength to those who defend us and may God be with us as we continue to work towards a just and righteous society.

L’shalom, to peace,

Rabbi Jason Holtz