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Pittsburgh synagogue shooting sparks outpouring of grief from American Jews

The attack came just days after a pipe bomb was sent to prominent Jewish philanthropist George Soros, who has been the target of what many see as anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.

world Updated: Oct 28, 2018 15:34 IST
Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
Pittsburgh synagogue shooting,Pittsburgh shooting,Pittsburgh shooting victims
A woman kneels to place a candle outside the Tree of Life Synagogue after a shooting there left 11 people dead in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh on October 27, 2018. (AFP)

A deadly shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh on Saturday has sparked an outpouring of grief and shock in America’s Jewish community, the largest outside Israel.

The attack -- which took place during a bris, or baby-naming ceremony, and killed 11 people -- came just days after a pipe bomb was sent to prominent Jewish philanthropist George Soros, who has been the target of what many see as anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.

Such conspiracy theories, which accuse Jews of dominating government and finance, are rife among the so-called “alt-right” movement, which is supportive of US President Donald Trump and has gained significant influence in recent years, including through Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon.

These are some reactions to the shooting:

‘Dangers of unchecked hatred’

“The Museum reminds all Americans of the dangers of unchecked hatred and anti-Semitism which must be confronted wherever they appear and calls on all Americans to actively work to promote social solidarity and respect the dignity of all individuals.” -- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

People gather for a vigil on Murray and Forbes Avenues, blocks from where an active shooter shot multiple people at Tree of Life Congregation synagogue on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018, in the Squirrel Hill section of Pittsburgh. (AP)

‘Unthinkable’

“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.” -- Anti-Defamation League

Read: 29 charges against gunman who carried out ‘deadliest attack on Jews in US’

‘Trouble breathing’

“Just devastating to see all the observant Jews I love learning now about what happened today in Pittsburgh. ‘I’m having trouble breathing,’ my mother just texted me. Her father barely escaped the Nazis.” -- Shayndi Raice, Wall Street Journal reporter.

History repeats

“As I told my eight-year-old son tonight about what had happened today, he looked at me utterly bewildered, and said, ‘But that doesn’t make any sense at all.’ And then he asked me, with an innocence that shattered me, about whether Jews had ever been killed at prayer before.” -- Rabbi Shai Held

‘Something in the past’

“Tree of Life in Pittsburgh was our synagogue when I was growing up. It is where I had my bar mitzvah. There were many lectures about anti-Semitism, but we understood it more as something in the past than in 1984.” -- Alan Zarembo, editor, Los Angeles Times

Two people hold candles during an interfaith vigil outside of Sixth Presbyterian Church, Saturday, Oct, 27, 2018, in the Squirrel Hill section of Pittsburgh. (AP)

‘Profound and emotional moment’

“They were hosting a bris this morning at this synagogue. A bris. Parents, perhaps for the first time, were marking the birth of their son just eight days prior -- a profound and emotional moment in their collective lives -- and some maniac burst in a shot everyone. During a bris.” -- Sam Stein, politics editor, The Daily Beast

Loss

“It is impossible to put into words the grief we feel as this Shabbat comes to a close and the Jewish people everywhere learn of the loss of our family, our loved ones, our beloved brothers and sisters, in Pittsburgh at Tree of Life Congregation.” -- Hillel International

First Published: Oct 28, 2018 15:33 IST