Mourning Senseless Pittsburgh Shooting at JCC

The vigil for 11 Jewish Pittsburgh worshippers killed in synagogue on sabbath was standing-room only at JCC

By Kathy Kahn

In yet another hateful attack, 11 members of the Tree of Life congregation were shot down by Robert Bowers, a deranged anti-Semitic white man, while the congregants celebrated the Sabbath at the Tree of Life Synagogue on Saturday, October 27.

Bowers was shot and subdued by police and is now in custody, leaving the nation in mourning yet again for another senseless hate crime. From California to New York, mass shootings have become a weekly occurrence as perpetrators gain flicker of infamous fame via mass media coverage, which often skews the news to reflect its own “values.”

Hundreds turned out at the Jewish Community Center in West Nyack Monday night to mourn the loss of those killed, each represented by an empty chair and a single candle sitting atop it. Lisa Green and Stephen Cohen, federation co-presidents, condemned the killings, along with Rockland County Executive Ed Day and Sheriff Louis Falco, both decrying anti-Semitism and overall violence to the overflow room. Falco told listeners, “The county has been on ‘high alert since September 11’ and has ramped up protection for synagogues across the county in the aftermath of the Pittsburgh shootings.”

Without using his name, some took a swing at President Donald Trump, who they felt to blame for the surge in violence across the nation. To bolster the blame on the 45th president, CNN interviewed Rabbi Jesse Myers of the Tree of Life Synagogue, who told the media outlet, “Hate does not know religion, race, creed, political party, it does not know any of those things—it exists in all people.”

Steve Gold, Chair of the Jewish Federation of Rockland County, welcomes audience

“Can hate be cultivated? What lights the match?” were more questions CNN peppered on Rabbi Myers. “I think you’re raising great questions for smarter people than I,” Rabbi Myers responded. “If we look in the Bible and the story of Noah, God regretfully said to Noah, “Man from his youth is prone to evil.” You would think that is a horrific thing for God to tell us…but good will always win out over hate…I woke up this morning and had 399 more e-mails from people of all faiths from all over the world sharing words of love and condolence.”

If asked if he wanted President Trump to come pay his respects, Rabbi Myers responded, “The president of the United States is always welcome. I’m a citizen, he’s my president, he’s certainly welcome.”

Indeed, the president and first lady visited with Myers Tuesday morning, but the blame game continues—and the mass shootings seem to have no end, whether it be at an outdoor concert in LA, a Christian gathering in California or a Sabbath service at a Pittsburgh synagogue.