Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch Responds to the Shooting in Pittsburgh

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Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch   October 27, 2018

Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch Responds to the Shooting in Pittsburgh

We are shocked and deeply saddened by the shooting Shabbat morning at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. We grieve with the families of the deceased and pray for the speedy recovery of the wounded. We express our appreciation to the law enforcement and security forces who acted heroically to prevent an even greater tragedy.

We are deeply concerned about increasing polarization and disunity in our country, and worry about an intensifying atmosphere of intolerance. While we wait for more details about the Pittsburgh shooting, we note that anti-Semitic hate crimes have surged in the United States. We know from past tragedies that violent rhetoric leads to violent action. We call on Americans to repudiate intolerant words; they lead to intolerant deeds. We call on political leaders to work to unite Americans.

We are dismayed that the massacre occurred on Shabbat, a day of contemplation, prayer, and peace. We are appalled that the horrific anti-Semitic attack occurred during a bris, the celebration of new life. We will not succumb to fear, violence or intimidation.

We have been in touch with our security consultants. They have reiterated to us that our security posture is comprehensive and adequate. As you know, we have invested considerable resources in hardening our building in the past few years. There is no known threat against the Jewish community in New York City. Nonetheless, we will increase security presence in front of the synagogue building tomorrow and this week while we continue to consult with security professionals.

On, Sunday, October 28, our synagogue hosted a  Kristallnacht concert, commemorating the night of broken glass in 1938, when violent words led to acts of extreme violence against Jews, synagogues and Jewish businesses that culminated in genocide. At the concert, we will renew our pledge never to forget and never to tolerate anti-Semitism in any form. During the concert, we will pause to recite the traditional mourner’s prayer in memory of those killed today as well as for those devoured by the Nazi beast. As a community, we expressed our solidarity with the Jews of the past and the present.

We pray for the day when brothers and sisters shall dwell in peace and none shall be afraid.