We all have heard about many terrible acts of violence and hatred, some ancient and some modern. However, when one reads about these things, that person is lulled into thinking that that same violence and hate won’t come to them, their family, their friends, or people they know.
I had that belief ripped away from me this weekend.
On Saturday, at approximately 9:45 a.m., Robert Bowers entered the Tree of Life synagogue near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in a mainly Jewish suburb called Squirrel Hill during Saturday morning Shabbat services. He shot 15 people; 11 died, four police officers were also among those who were shot, and several were wounded. A bris, a baby’s circumcision service, was also being held at the same time as the shooting, but luckily no children were among the dead.
I am from Pittsburgh. That synagogue is about ten minutes away from my house. Before coming to the U, I would quite often drive through Squirrel Hill. I had doctor appointments there, my parents both work there, my favorite pizza place is there, and I have easily driven past the synagogue about a million times. I can’t bear thinking that some of those who were praying during Shabbat services, some of those who were inside that synagogue at the time, and god forbid some of the dead, are my friends, colleagues, mentors, and acquaintances.
The saddest thing about all of this is that this attack is not unique. It is another in a long list of tragedies.
Last year, a report by the Anti-Defamation League claimed that the number of anti-Semitic incidents in the US has surged by nearly 60 percent from 2016 to 2017. For a country that believes that everyone should be treated equally, for a country that saw first-hand what the Nazis and their cronies did during World War II and vowed to never let that happen again, for a country that prides itself on showcasing the many rights and freedoms its citizens may enjoy to the world, the fact that attacks like this are so frequent in America is appalling.
What happened today should not become a spark for more discord that already plagues our country to hurt us even more. We all need to come together. We all need to stand together against those who wish to do violence on others just for who they are and how they decide to express themselves. We all need to be stronger than the hate that manifests itself in our world. Jewish teachings state that we all are created B’tzelem Elohim (in the Image of God). Differences in religious views, sexual orientation, political ideologies, race, ethnicity, etc., should not matter and do not matter when it comes to our common sense of humanity.
I’m proud to hail from the City of Champions, the City of Steel, and the City of Bridges. Pittsburgh prides itself on being a relatively small yet tightly knit blue-collar city. I know us Yinzers from the Burgh are all grieving and will never forget what happened today, but we will continue to be Pittsburgh Proud.
Zachary Zytnick is a freshman double majoring in accounting and economics. He is an assistant online editor of The Miami Hurricane.
Featured image courtesy Pixabay.com