By JORIE MEIL-Yitgadal v’yitkadash sh’mei raba. The words of the mourner’s kaddish have been echoing throughout the country since the tragic events of last Saturday. The shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Squirrel Hill was a bloody reminder of the anti-semitism Jews face in America.
On October 27, congregants walked into the Tree of Life synagogue for their regular Saturday services. Unbeknownst to them, they were walking into their slaughter. A shooter armed with an AR-15 shouting “All Jews must die” stepped into their place of worship and killed eleven innocent people.
Until last weekend, most of the country believed anti anti-semitism was eradicated along with Hitler and the Nazis. Apparently, it took the death of eleven innocent people to remind the world the great threat that is still posed by anti-semitism.
“I believe that anti-semitism, or really hate toward any religion, can be an issue in today’s society. People should be judged by the content of their character, not their beliefs or ideologies,” stated sophomore Max Kovalchick. “Nothing is solved by shooting someone based on their beliefs, but this man believed what he was doing is right. The main way it is a problem is that people do what they think is right, but their judgment is askew.”
After the shooting, there was a push for Jews across the country to attend Shabbat services the next Friday. I was lucky enough to be in a synagogue in Laurel Maryland for my cousin’s Bat Mitzvah. Before the service, all of the ladies, my mother, aunt, and grandmother included, were standing around kvetching and gossiping. It hit me then that Joyce Feinberg, Rose Mallinger, and Bernice Simon were probably also doing this before they were struck down by the intolerance in this country.
Anti-semitism comes in many forms. The nation notices tragic events like the shooting at Tree of Life or the multiple bombings of synagogues back in 2016, but what about the subtle swastika drawn on a bathroom stall? What about the 6th graders that make Holocaust jokes after learning about it in class? You don’t have to be a murderer to be an anti-semite, you just have to be an ignorant and intolerant human being. If the signs were picked up, then maybe anti-semites wouldn’t be able to get to the stage of hate where they can manage to justify taking the lives of eleven people.
The next question on the minds of every Jew in America is, is there hope? Can we find a way to heal and grow from this experience as a nation. The answer is, we have to and we are.
Right here in Indiana we are taking steps in the right direction. Three churches along with Beth Israel synagogue organized a vigil that was held right outside the courthouse the night after the shooting. At IHS, a group of students are putting together a fundraiser for the victims families. If a bunch of high school students in western PA can come together and fight anti-semitism, then so can the rest of the world.
This is not a time for thoughts and prayers. This is a time to fight intolerance and hate. This is a time to recognize injustice and solve it
[Photo courtesy of S&S screen printing]
Photo Caption: “The “stronger than hate” logo has been used to represent the recent tragedy in Pittsburgh”
Jorie is a junior and is co-editor and business manager. She has been on the High Arrow staff for three years and likes being able to inform the IHS community of local and worldwide news.