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Jewish Community Reacts After Pittsburgh Synagogue Mass Shooting

The World Jewish community is in mourning after a gunman killed 11 people and injured six others, including four responding law-enforcement officers, during a bris milah at The Tree of Life, Or L’Simcha Synagogue in Squirrel Hill, a historic Jewish neighborhood in the area, as the synagogue was observing its weekly Shabbat services on Saturday.

The shooter is 46-year-old Robert Bowers. He was apprehended at the scene of the shooting. Police sources told the news outlet that when Bowers walked into the synagogue, he allegedly yelled, “All Jews must die.”

“It’s a time of mourning,” Adam Hertzman, director of marketing at the Jewish Federation of Pittsburgh, told Fox News on Saturday night.

Jeff Finkelstein, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, said: “Today our city, which has ordinarily been among the most safe and secure in the nation, was rocked by horrible tragedy. My heart is broken, and I offer my condolences to the friends and family of those killed.”

“I hope and pray for healing for everyone affected and for all of us who are sickened by these recent events,” continued Finkelstein. “We are truly all family in the Pittsburgh Jewish community, so these deaths have affected me and all of us as would a death in the family.”

“No words are adequate,” said David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee. “A demented, bigoted mind that would destroy lives in a house of worship should leave us all speechless, united and angry as hell.”

Agudath Israel of America issued a statement. “There are simply no words of condemnation that can truly express our anguish and disgust at the perpetrator of this hate-fueled act or others like it. Any platform or group, including those on social media, that serves to stir up and metastasize bigotry and anti-Semitic hatred, needs to be called out and shut down for incitement of violence. Until all Americans confront the horror of anti-Semitism head on, our great Democracy will not have achieved its promise.

May those who were injured in today’s senseless violence have a speedy and complete recovery from their wounds.”

“Our hearts go out to our brothers and sisters at Tree of Life, and throughout the Squirrel Hill community,” said Ari Berman, president of Yeshiva University. “That this cowardly anti-Semitic assault was perpetrated during a brit milah, a celebration of new life, only highlights the twisted nature of the evil that has threatened the Jewish people over the ages and against which all people of good conscience must fight.

“May God grant our people both the strength to help each other during this time of mourning and the fortitude to rebuild together. And may decent people the world over join together with us in eradicating this most ancient of all hatreds.”


‘Another example of the danger of anti-Semitism’

In addition to giving condolences, Jack Rosen, president of the American Jewish Congress, remarked that the shooting is a reminder of the hatred that persists against Jews.

“The American Jewish Congress strongly condemns the acts of terrorism and hate against our community,” said Rosen. “Attacking innocent civilians in their place of worship, when they are congregating to practice their faith, is a cowardly and dreadful crime of hate. During these terrible times, we stand even stronger against anti-Semitism, white supremacy and intimidation.”

“We are devastated. Jews targeted on Shabbat morning at synagogue, a holy place of worship, is unconscionable,” tweeted Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt. “Our hearts break for the victims, their families, and the entire Jewish community.”

“It is simply unconscionable for Jews to be targeted during worship on a Sabbath morning, and unthinkable that it would happen in the United States of America in this day and age,” said Greenblatt in a statement. “Unfortunately, this violent attack–the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in the United States since 2014–occurs at time when ADL has reported an increase in both anti-Semitic incidents and anti-Semitic online harassment.”


‘An assault on humanity’ says Trump

U.S. President Donald Trump also decried the hatred behind the shooting.

“This evil anti-Semitic attack is an assault on humanity,” tweeted the president. “It will take all of us working together to extract the poison of anti-Semitism from our world. We must unite to conquer hate.”

The president’s daughter Ivanka Trump, who converted to Judaism, posted on Twitter: “America is stronger than the acts of a depraved bigot and anti-Semite. All good Americans stand with the Jewish people to oppose acts of terror & share the horror, disgust & outrage over the massacre in Pittsburgh. We must unite against hatred & evil.”

(October 27, 2018 / JNS)

 By J. Richman