This is article one of a three part series addressing the horrendous massacre in Pittsburgh.
Eleven Jews Were Murdered.
As is widely known by now, eleven Jews were murdered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the United States. They had been worshiping on Shabbos in the Tree of Life Synagogue (Eitz Chaim) when they were brutally gunned down. The names of the vicitms are: Daniel Stein, Joyce Fienberg, Richard Gottfried, Rose Mallinger, Jerry Rabinowitz, Cecil Rosenthal, David Rosenthal,Bernice Simon, Sylvan Simon, Melvin Wax, Irving Younger.
Rose Mallinger was 97 years old. Think on that. Ninety-seven years old.
The attacker was Robert Bowers. He was a Nazi. He was wounded in a shootout with police. The shootout injured four officers. He was not killed.
The murderer deliberately attempted to kill Jews.
This is the worst massacre of Jews in American history.
There are hundreds, probably thousands of men in this country who share the same Nazi ideology as Bowers. How many are willing to pull the trigger to act on their beliefs? Who knows, but Bowers was willing. He will not be the last.
The United States has always been a liberal society. It remains a liberal society. The United States has always been tolerant of its Jews. It remains tolerant of its Jews. The United States has always loved its Jews. It still loves its Jews.
Yet, a massacre took place.
Did something change? Its complicated, but one thing certainly changed.
The Israeli ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer, alluded to the change that has taken place that give rise to the massacre, when he spoke to Mark Levin on the radio today. He said that technology has brought together all these Nazis (he called them haters) into a semblance of a community (a mockery of the term, of course.) The previously lonely and lonesome Nazis could now better associate and egg each other on.
How are to view then this boldness of the Nazi group in the US, within the larger American context? It cannot be disputed that the US has been great to its Jews. This country is the only country in history to host such as considerable Jewish population, and not once have government sponsored pogroms or discriminatory laws. But at the same there is a Nazi problem in the US, and the government cannot effectively combat them without trampling on the Bill of Rights of the Constitution.
This is an important line of thinking to pursue. And there are other questions to be had. But before we do that, we must do other things.
We must mourn. We must mourn for the dead. Innocent souls, beautiful souls, had their lives suddenly and tragically snuffed out while they were engaged in the most peaceful and sacred of activities: worshiping their God in heaven.
We must mourn also for our place within American society. A piece of the mosaic of the quiet peace and serenity that characterized Jewish life in America was broken. It will never be made whole again.
We must pray. We must pray for safety and security. To the leader who promised regarding the Jews and those who wish to destroy us: “those seeking their destruction, we will seek their destruction,” we pray that God give him strength and wisdom to do just that. We are not Christians; thankfully we do not need to pray for our enemies. But we should pray to God to guide us in the era ahead. A little bit of our gentleness–and oh, how Jews are ever so gentle and nonthreatening–inevitable died in the hail of gunfire on Shabbos in Pittsburgh.
We must prepare. We must prepare for a harsher and more unstable future. There will be wars, and rumors of wars. We must prepare to defend ourselves to the death. We must fight–with friends if possible, alone if necessary.
Something unrevivable died this past Shabbos in the Eitz Chaim synagogue. Perhaps something else has been created.