Central New York Rabbi Honors Victims of Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting Eleven Mitzvahs for Eleven Victims

A Syracuse rabbi wants people to do good deeds after the Pittsburgh shooting.

Rabbi Yakok Rapoport holding a mezuzah.
Some mezuzahs can have writing inscribed on them, such as this one.
© 2018 Doug Cortese

Syracuse, NY (NCC News) Director of Chabad Lubavitch of Central New York wants people to do good deeds, known as Mitzvahs, to honor the victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting. Yakov Rapoport started an initiative  called “Eleven Mitzvahs for Eleven Victims.” It is meant to honor the victims while uniting the Jewish community.

“You can’t sweep away darkness with brooms,” Yakov Rapoport said.

Yakov Rapoport is calling on all Jewish people to be nice during this time of mourning, which is what mitzvahs are all about. A mitzvah can be something as simple as visiting the sick, or participating in a prayer service.

Last week, Robert Bowers opened fire in the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. He killed 11 people and injured two more. Rapoport’s wife, Chanie Rapoport, is participating in Eleven for Eleven by opening her home to others.

“One thing I like to do in such a case, is I like to invite people to come to my home,” Chanie Rapoport said.

While Chanie Rapoport believes spending time with friends and family will help she is not the only one participating in Eleven for Eleven. She was excited when she saw students honoring the victims by wrapping the teffillin around their arms and saying the names of each victim.

“Doing a  mitzvah and saying the victims name and in that way the name lives on,” said Chanie Rapoport.

The Tefillin are leather boxes containing Hebrew parchment scrolls. They are used during prayer to make a connection with God.  Putting up mezuzahs is another thing that honors the victims, Yakov Rapoport said. Mezuzahs are parchments with religious text on them that are hung near the door of Jewish homes.

However, for both Yakov and Chanie, the meaning of mitzvahs and the eleven for eleven initiative extend beyond the Jewish community.

“Our response in the past to terror has always been…doing something to make the world a better place,” Yakov Rapoport said.


Cortese:Rabbi Yakov Rapoport says good deeds, known as mitzvahs, are a good way to honor the victims. That’s why he started “Eleven Mitzvahs for Eleven Victims.”

Yakov Rapoport: “You can’t sweep away darkness with brooms.”

Cortese: Chanie Rapoport is participating by hosting friends and family and encouraging others to go to local synagogues. However she is not the only one honoring victims. Students are too.

Chanie Rapoport: “Every time a student put on a tefillin they said this is a memory of one of the victims and they said the victims name.

Cortese: Rapoport is Director of Chabad Lubavitch in Central New York. His synagogues will honor eleven for eleven all week. Doug Cortese NCC news.

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