‘Our hearts are break­ing’

ADL: Likely the dead­li­est at­tack on U.S. Jewish com­mu­nity in na­tion’s his­tory

Stamford Advocate (Sunday) - - News - By Tara O’Neill

The Anti-Defama­tion League said its re­search showed that Satur­day’s shoot­ing at a Pitts­burgh syn­a­gogue was likely the dead­li­est at­tack on the Jewish com­mu­nity in the na­tion’s his­tory.

“Our hearts are break­ing for those killed and in­jured,” said Steve Gins­burg, direc­tor of the Con­necti­cut Re­gion of the ADL.

Gins­burg said he con­tacted Jewish lead­ers across Con­necti­cut to fig­ure out how to re­spond to the vi­o­lence, and that the ADL was work­ing on a plan to sup­port the vic­tims of Satur­day’s shoot­ing, which killed 11 peo­ple at the Tree of Life Con­gre­ga­tion in Pitts­burgh’s Squir­rel Hill neigh­bor­hood.

The shooter, iden­ti­fied by author­i­ties as 46-yearold Robert Bow­ers, was in cus­tody, and the mas­sacre was be­ing in­ves­ti­gated as a hate crime. The shoot­ing also prompted syn­a­gogues in Con­necti­cut and else­where to re-ex­am­ine safety mea­sures.

“Any act of sense­less ha­tred just shakes you to the core,” said Rabbi Mitchell Hurvitz, of Tem­ple Sholom in Green­wich.

Hurvitz said his tem­ple is proac­tive with se­cu­rity and works closely with the town’s po­lice. Faith com­mu­ni­ties in Green­wich plan to or­ga­nize a memo­rial ser­vice or vigil in trib­ute to the Pitts­burgh vic­tims, he said.

In Bridge­port, Po­lice Chief Ar­mando Perez said his depart­ment has stepped up se­cu­rity mea­sures at all syn­a­gogues, mosques and churches in the city.

“There’s no threat to the im­me­di­ate area, but you al­ways have to be care­ful,” Perez said. “There’s al­ways a chance of copy-cat in­ci­dents . ... I don’t think any­thing’s go­ing to hap­pen here, but I’m not go­ing to take a chance. I don’t take chances with pub­lic safety.”

Tem­ple Is­rael in West­port vowed to al­ways pro­tect its mem­bers.

“I want you to know that se­cu­rity of our con­gre­gants, stu­dents and staff con­tin­ues to be our high­est pri­or­ity,” said a state­ment by Rabbi Michael S. Fried­man. “We have pro­fes­sional se­cu­rity on our premises every day. Our staff and lay lead­er­ship work closely with world-class se­cu­rity con­sul­tants to reg­u­larly re­view our many se­cu­rity pro­to­cols and pro­ce­dures.”

Be­yond that, Fried­man’s state­ment said, “Friends, let us gather right­eous peo­ple to­gether, so that we can bring hope, heal­ing and peace to a world so deeply in need of redemp­tion.”

U.S. Sen. Chris Mur­phy, D-Conn., called the mass shoot­ing in Pitts­burgh “heart-wrench­ing.”

“We can­not con­tinue down this path — some­thing must change,” Mur­phy said. He said loose gun laws are to blame, as are on­line “cesspools of racial and re­li­gious ha­tred.”

“Peo­ple in Con­necti­cut are sick of this. I am sick of this,” Mur­phy said. “That’s why I will keep do­ing ev­ery­thing I can to make our world a safer and more tol­er­ant world for our chil­dren.”

Sen. Richard Blu­men­thal, D-Conn., echoed Mur­phy’s sen­ti­ments.

“Our hearts break and stom­achs turn af­ter these shame­ful anti-Semitic mur­ders,” Blu­men­thal said. “My thoughts are with the fam­i­lies and brave law en­force­ment. Congress is com­plicit — by its in­ac­tion — in this loath­some epi­demic of gun vi­o­lence.”

Gins­burg said there has been a his­toric in­crease in anti-Semitic in­ci­dents, and that on­line fo­rums that al­low that hate speech are preva­lent. Af­ter the shoot­ing, he said, the ADL looked at data about at­tacks on the Jewish com­mu­nity that has been for­mally recorded since the 1970s.

“Our in­for­ma­tion is that this is the dead­li­est at­tack on the Jewish com­mu­nity in the his­tory of the U.S.,” he said.

Bridge­port Mayor Joe Ganim re­leased his own state­ment, con­demn­ing the vi­o­lence.

“A house of wor­ship should al­ways be a sa­cred place of refuge and spir­i­tual com­fort, not a place where peo­ple com­ing to­gether to pray as a com­mu­nity on the Sab­bath must run for cover and hide from bul­lets,” Ganim said. “An at­tack on any syn­a­gogue or church is an at­tack on us all.”

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