Pittsburgh Grieves for the Dead

Daevan Mangalmurti, Editor

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This morning, a gunman opened fire at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Squirrel Hill. Tonight, 11 people from the Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha, New Light, and Dor Hadash congregations are dead; six more have been injured and hospitalized. The shooting suspect, Baldwin resident Robert Bowers, who has a history of anti-Semitic social media posts, has also been hospitalized for multiple gunshot wounds. A national and international outpouring has resulted from the shooting, with local and state politicians rushing to the scene, and leaders including President Donald Trump, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey issuing statements condemning the attack. It is the first fatal mass shooting in Pittsburgh this century, and possibly the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in American history.

At 6:30 this evening, hundreds gathered at the corner of Forbes and Murray in the heart of Squirrel Hill for a candlelight vigil honoring the victims. Organized by Allderdice students, members of the Dor Hadash congregation, and 6th Street Presbyterian Church, it was an incredibly emotional experience. Many members of the community could be seen crying as songs began to be sung and the neighborhood mourned for the dead, candles held high above their heads. Ellis junior Simone Rothstein spoke about how her sister started crying that morning, “because she didn’t understand how someone could hate her because of her religion so much that they would want to go kill someone,” and thanked the Pittsburgh Jewish and non-Jewish community for coming out to honor the Tree of Life victims. Dor Hadash congregation member Elena Hochheiser was grateful for Pittsburgh’s support, but expressed cynicism about the future, “I feel like nothing’s going to change,” she said of gun laws in the US. As the crowd slowly dispersed back to their homes, the candles they held burned away at some of the grief draped over the city. But much of it remained.

Editor’s Note: If you’d like to support the Tree of Life Synagogue, you can donate money on the GoFundMe page set up to help them recover from the attack: https://www.gofundme.com/tree-of-life-synagogue-shooting

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