On October 27, 2018, a mass shooting took place at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh. Robert Bowers took the life of eleven individuals and caused commotion and heartache in Pennsylvania, especially in the Jewish community.
SLA’s community has been alarmed by the growing number of shootings and the commotion caused by the Pittsburgh shooting, and the Jewish members of the community had a unique perspective to share a Jewish perspective on the shooting.
Senior Avi Cantor gave his initial reaction as well as his mother’s.
“She just broke down and she said there was a shooting there and I had family there. And she knew that my grandfather’s side of the family is native to Homestead which is close to Pittsburgh and a lot of his friends went to that synagogue. And my mom just broke down and said: I don’t know what happened, I don’t know if anyone got hurt so it was like a crazy experience and for the entire weekend we were focused on it the whole time.”
Avi knew someone who was killed in the shooting and his response to the shooting was more political. He blamed Trump for the lack of gun regulations.
He immediately blamed the fact that the synagogue wasn’t armed and I just thought that if I walked into my synagogue and saw armed guards I would feel intimidated and I would feel I wasn’t somewhere safe. A synagogue is a place with a connection to god.”
Robert Bowers motive was fueled by anti-semitic beliefs and ideals. Though it may not be the first time a shooting has happened this year, it was a shooting that brought everyone’s attention because it was at a synagogue. History teacher, Daniel Symonds, believes that the conversation shouldn’t be about that this was a hate crime but about the aggressive pattern of gun violence.
“The conversation should be about what do we do, not let’s double check if this a hate crime. The notion that this is not a hate crime or not a big deal is a fantasy produced by people who don’t believe in gun violence and don’t care about the victims of gun violence. Show me the person that this is not seeing this as a big issue and I’ll show you a moron.” Symonds stated.
The issue that Symonds believes we as a community should focus on is how to prevent shootings in the United States.
Senior Sara Berg believed maybe shootings may never end.
“There’s still so much hate everywhere, especially on the internet but its more casual. I’m not sure if there is a way to end shootings with our current situation.” Berg stated.
People now have succumbed to the fact that mass shootings are starting to become societal norms. Before the shooting at the tree of life synagogue, people believed that shootings were done by people who didn’t feel accepted in society but now shooters appear to be products of violent media.
“Wild hate mongering media has succeeded and has taken some people’s anger in our society and channeled that anger into vicious old school type fo hates such as anti-semitism. What more profound of America than a mass shooting in a Tree of Life synagogue.” Mr. Symonds stated.
Mass shootings are becoming more prevalent and now people have to endure the harm of antisemitic shooters. Though things may look bleak and there may not be an obvious solution, maybe things in our country can change if more people listen to people like Daniel Symmonds:
“What our society needs is more connection to the community. We need more public education, we need more mental health services, we need gun control and we need certain media regulations.”