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What the Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting Represents for America — and for Me

I am a Jewish student at CSUF. I am shaken by the shooting in Pittsburgh.

By Rivka Pruss

These attacks must be condemned socially and through tolerance-supporting policies. As a nation and at CSUF we must work together to spread love, kindness and tolerance.

On Saturday I sat in my kitchen sobbing listening to the news: 11 Jews killed in a Pittsburgh synagogue shooting.

On Sunday my heart was saddened, angered, but full of pride to be Jewish. My friend Alex Lustig, a fellow Jew on campus and a senior communications major, said he felt sick to his stomach when he heard the news.

Members of my community had their lives ended for practicing their faith, a federally protected right. One 97-year-old victim, Rose Mallinger, was our age during WWII. She was brutally murdered in the United States.

The shooter, a white male, shouted “all Jews must die,” at the Tree of Life synagogue yesterday morning.

He attacked congregants during a happy and symbolic moment, a baby naming ceremony. Thankfully, no children were killed.

Before opening fire, he posted several anti-Semitic and hate sentiments online, according to NBC News.

A Rise in Anti-Semitism

According to the Anti-Defamation League, this shooting is the largest hate crime against the Jewish community in American history. It represents a rise in anti-Semitism and hate crimes carried out through violence.

There was 57 percent increase in anti-Semitism from 2016 to 2017, the ADL reported.

The Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle reported over 50 cases of anti-Semitic incidents this year alone.

In April, a man in Irvine was charged with hate crimes for a “kill list” against prominent Jewish community members, according to Los Angeles Times.

Jews and non-Jews must care about this shooting, because it represents how hate crimes target minority communities, intending to cause fear.

Violent Hate Crimes

The hate crimes against Jews represent a larger problem of the rise of violent hate crimes in America. In 2016, The Federal Bureau of Investigation collected data that showed a 10 percent increase in hate crimes since 2014.

In 2016, the FBI reported a 19 percent spike in anti-Islamic hate crimes.

An eight percent increase in hate crimes against blacks or African-Americans in 2016 was also reported. This week, a grandfather and his grandson, both African-American were killed in a grocery store, according to CNN.

The LGBTQ community has also been hit hard. In 2016, during Pride week, 49 people were killed at Pulse Nightclub, Orlando Sentinel reported.

These attacks must be condemned socially and through tolerance-supporting policies. As a nation and at CSUF we must work together to spread love, kindness and tolerance.

I urge you to interact with the Jewish community. CSUF has an active Hillel group that hosts Shabbat dinners, and students can even earn a Jewish Studies minor.

If you are able, please help to donate to the Pittsburgh synagogue.



  • Donna Greenberg says:

    Thank you, Rivka, for an insightful and passionate response to the killing of 11 congregants at Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh on Saturday. The anti-Semitic madman with access to guns wiped out Jews on Shabbat, a calculated way and time to get his message of hate across.

    Thank you also for the facts you included, which point to the far-reaching nature of the climate in this country since Trump’s election. His vitriol has encouraged right-wing extremists to come above ground and act abominably, again and again.

    We have a lot of work ahead of us. Voting in the mid-terms will be a start to hopefully take back Congress so we can re-introduce compassion, goodwill, and reason to the dialogue. And we must stand in solidarity with people of all races and religions, to show that love is still more powerful than hate.

  • Rivka Pruss says:

    I appreciate that you found my response insightful and informative. We do have a lot of work. Voting is one way that Americans can express their voice. To also help the Jewish community, I urge people to donate to the synagogue and Jewish organizations across the country.
    As a country, we must come together and stand for love and appreciation and acceptance of diversity.

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