Statement on Shabbat Mass Shooting at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh

The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington (JFGW) and The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington (JCRC) are horrified and heartbroken by the despicable murderous attack at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood that took place this morning during Shabbat services. Words are insufficient to convey our community’s profound pain at the slaughter of innocent people who were worshiping with their community on the holy day of Shabbat, a time that is a weekly reminder to celebrate joy and peace. It is particularly poignant that this savage attack took place in the midst of a Jewish baby naming, the welcoming of a new life with all of its hope and promise.

We stand in solidarity with the Pittsburgh Jewish community, and we mourn the loss of 11 innocent lives.

We also commend the bravery of Pittsburgh’s first responders; current reports indicate that among the injured are several police officers. We are grateful for their courage, and our hearts ache for them and for their families.

We join together with so many fellow Americans in condemning the rising tide of white nationalism, racism and hatred directed at Jewish people and other vulnerable minorities in our country. An attack on one community is an attack on all Americans, and on the ideals our diverse nation stands for each day. No person should ever be in fear of assembling in their place of worship.

Within our local community in Greater Washington, the JCRC and The Jewish Federation extend our gratitude to local law enforcement agencies, with whom we have been in close contact since this morning. Patrols and police presence have been increased at synagogues and other Jewish institutions in our region. We thank our partners in law enforcement for their support and their speedy response, and we will continue to work with them to coordinate institutional security for our community.

In the wake of such a devastating tragedy, grief, anger, and fear are all expected. This is especially so when the devastation occurs in a community so geographically close to ours; We know that many members of our Greater Washington Jewish community are themselves Pittsburgh natives and/or have many family and friends in Squirrel Hill.

Please join us at Adas Israel Congregation on Monday at 6:30 PM for an interfaith service and solidarity gathering, as we mourn the innocent lives lost, express our outrage and concern, and join in prayer as a community for the speedy recovery of those injured. Additional details may be found here.

To meet the immediate security concerns in our community, Federation and its donors have guaranteed a minimum of $100,000 towards emergency grants to synagogues and other Jewish organizations that are struggling to afford security. Donations to support this effort may be made to Federation’s Communal Security Fund to ensure that every community member feels safe in their places of gathering and worship. 100% of your gift will go towards meeting the immediate security needs of the synagogues and organizations serving our local community.

Finally, as always, JSSA is available to help people individually or through our institutions and synagogues to cope with tragic events and to promote the resiliency of our community. If you would like to inquire about counseling for yourself or your family, please contact Scott Kreeger at (301) 610-8381 or inquire through JSSA’s intake department at (301) 816-2633.

Ha’makom yenahem etkhem betokh she’ar avelei Tziyonvi’Yerushalayim. May the memories of the precious lives lost today be for a blessing, and may God console their families and friends among the other mourners of Zion and Jerusalem. We wish a speedy recovery, a refuah shleimah, to the injured.