PITTSBURGH—Nearly eighty years since Kristallnacht, when the Jews of Europe perished in the flames of their houses of worship, one thing is clear. Antisemitism, Jew hating, is not a distant memory,’’ said Israeli Diaspora and Education Minister Naftalui Bennett said as he addressed a memorial vigil for the victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting that left eleven people dead and several others wounded during Shabbat services.
A 46-year-old gunman, identified as Robert Bowers, a man who posted many anti-Jewish messages on social media, entered the Tree of Life synagogue and opened fire on the congregants. The shooting has been deemed the deadliest attack on Jews in American history, according to the Anti-Defamation League.
‘’Antisemitism is a clear and present danger. But we will prevail. The Tree of Life will never be uprooted by hatred.”
Minister Bennett was visiting the city as an official emissary of the Israeli government to offer strength and support to the Jewish community following the terrible tragedy.
Addressing the vigil, an event with more than 4,000 attendees from across the Jewish and non-Jewish communities in the city,
The Minister said, ‘’We stand together, as Jews from all communities united, as well as members of all faiths. Together we stand. Americans, Israelis. People who are together saying, “no to hatred. The murderer’s bullet does not stop to ask: are you Conservative or Reform, are you Orthodox? Are you right wing or left wing? It has one goal, and that is to kill innocent people. Innocent Jews.”
The Minister met with leaders of the Pittsburgh Jewish community, and wider American Jewry, as well as with Governor of Pennsylvania Tom Wolf, and Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, as well as Members of Congress representing the state.
In an emotional meeting, Minister Bennett sat with Rabbi Jeffrey Myers, the leader of the Tree of Life congregation which was attacked, who managed to help usher some of his congregants to safety.