Community responds to hate-filled shootings


Following Saturday’s synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh that claimed the lives of 11 people while injuring a half-dozen others, various community leaders and elected officials came out in support of Tree of Life Synagogue.

“Today’s tragedy is a raw reminder that there are individuals among us who have hate in their hearts and violence in their heads,” Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz said, in a statement. “Eleven people are dead, six are wounded, and one innocent community is shattered as the result of one anti-Semitic, extreme right wing, xenophobic individual with an assault rifle who lived in an echo chamber of evilness. Our hearts are broken for the affected families, and we are scared for our own.”

The lawmaker said the shooting should not force people to re-evaluate practicing their faith.

“We must remain strong together, rejecting hate, and move forward, united by our compassion for each other,” Dinowitz said. “We cannot allow today’s events to deter us from exercising our faith or speaking out for what we believe in.

“I will continue to push for common sense gun reforms, including legislation to remove weapons of war from people determined to be a threat to themselves or others.”

U.S. Rep. Adriano Espaillat remembered not only those who were killed in the synagogue shooting, but also two shoppers at a grocery store in Kentucky.

“America mourns as our communities are being torn apart by acts of domestic terrorism, hate and violence,” Espaillat said, in a statement. “Last week, a man executed two African-Americans at a grocery store, a Trump supporter sent bombs in the mail to Democratic officials and critics of the president, and an avowed anti-Semite walked into a synagogue and took 11 lives at a place of prayer and worship.

“We are more divided today than when President Trump first took office. He must fully denounce white nationalism and stop the hate rhetoric and the targeting of minorities fueled by the policies being put forth by this administration.”

Maurice Stallard and Vickie Jones were shot at a Kroger supermarket outside Louisville.

Killed in the separate Pittsburgh shooting were Joyce Feinberg, Richard Gottfried, Rose Mallinger, Jerry Rabinowitz, Cecil Rosenthal, David Rosenthal, Bernice Simon, Sylvan Simon, Daniel Stein, Melvin Wax and Irving Younger.

Riverdale-Yonkers Society for Ethical Culture leader Jone Johnson Lewis, took a less political approach to the tragedies.

“The effect of such attacks always includes not just those directly affected, but many more indirectly affected,” Lewis said in an email to society members. “Here in Riverdale, many houses of worship had police protection on Saturday and Sunday, including a watchful police car outside our own meeting house during our Sunday platform meeting. I have had people dear to me who were present at previous hate shootings, and I know personally how even second- or third-hand experience of such attacks can affect us, and new attacks bring back old feelings.

“May we be ever stronger in our commitment to human worth, human dignity, human freedom and human connection, in a world in which these are under attack.”

Accused gunmen were arrested after both attacks, with President Trump calling the synagogue shooting a act of “pure evil,” with plans to visit Pittsburgh this past Tuesday.