The Significance of the Pittsburgh Shooting
By Korina Kesler
Just this past Saturday on October 27, 2018, in the Tree of Life synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood in Pittsburgh, 11 people were coldly and heartlessly murdered as well as six others, including four law enforcement officers, were injured. These individuals were at the synagogue practicing their American right of freedom of religion by praying to their God on the Jewish holy day of Sabbath. This attack brought the Pittsburgh community together as they attempted to come to terms with the horror that had just occurred in what is meant to be a place of God.
The suspect in custody is a 46-year-old anti-Semite who is now facing 44 charges including hate crimes, 32 of them which are punishable by the death penalty. This man came into the synagogue at 9:54 A.M. with the intent of spreading anti-Semitic hate. As he was attacking the synagogue he shouted hate against Jews including, “Death to all Jews.”
This terrifying rhetoric demonstrates the lack of acceptance in America today. According to the Anti-Defamation League, “In 2017, anti-Semitic incidents surged nearly 60 percent.” This is the largest rise in anti-Semitism since the Anti-Defamation League began tracking these crimes in 1979. This is similar to what occurred in Europe before the Holocaust when continuous anti-Semitic actions went unnoticed. At that time, when anti-Semitic actions were put to an end, it only got worse for the Jews. This points to the fact that as time goes on, Jews are becoming increasingly unsafe in America, and this mass shooting only furthers this idea.
One of the Jewish worshippers, 80-year-old Judah Samet, who was thankfully spared from this shooting was a Holocaust survivor and has said in reaction to the shooting, “It just never ends. It’s never completely safe for Jews.” Judah Samet survived in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp during World War II for 10 months before he was liberated. However, now in America, his life was threatened again through anti-Semitism proving his words true. Jews are always in danger, no matter where they live, a fact only becoming more evident as the years continue. In fact, CNN has reported that in Britain, anti-Semitism is so awful that many Jews are even planning on leaving Britain — basically another Jewish exodus from yet another country.
This event is one of the deadliest mass shootings in a house of worship to occur in America, and the hateful death of these individuals will not be forgotten by this Pittsburgh community. The funerals have been planned to occur throughout this week, October 30 to November 2 in order to commemorate the lives and say a final goodbye to the lives lost in the shooting. Meanwhile, Bowers, the shooter, who has pled not guilty and requested a trial by grand jury, is expected to have a preliminary hearing on Thursday, November 1.
There is no way to undo this tragic event that has struck the Tree of Life Synagogue, but there is a way to prevent something like this from happening again. First of all, government action must be taken to prevent the ease of acquiring guns. Men like Bowers, who legally owned 10 guns, one of which was an AR-15 rifle, should not have the right to guns. Government action against guns can only occur through the vote of us Americans, which is Tuesday, November 6.
Gun laws must be changed. Additionally, incidents like this must not be forgotten, because the minute they are forgotten they will happen again. Americans must come together to prevent the spread of anti-Semitism across the country and learn instead to love and accept others for their differences. The Pittsburgh shooting cannot be forgotten.