Sunday, October 28, 2018

The Attack At Tree of Life Synagogue

I am sad and I am angry, but I'm mostly sad. On Saturday morning, a gunman entered the Tree of Life synagogue in the Squirrel Hill section of Pittsburgh, killed 11 people, and wounded several others including 4 Pittsburgh police officers. Tree of Life is the synagogue I belonged to growing up. I attended Hebrew and Sunday school at Tree of Life and had my Bar Mitzvah there. Therefore, Saturday's shooting hits really close to home.

For a little background, Tree of Life was a massive synagogue. The main sanctuary can seat over 1,000 people, and when I was young in the late 70s and early 80s, they used to hold two services on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur to accommodate everyone. Basically, there was an A service and a B service. The membership numbers have dropped over the years for a variety of reasons including the fact that there aren't as many Jews that attend conservative synagogues in Squirrel Hill as there used to be. Since Tree of Life is still a large building though, there were three separate services for three separate congregations occurring on Saturday.

Although I moved away from Pittsburgh years ago, I'm sure that I still know people who attend Tree of Life, and I definitely know people who live near the synagogue. I already learned that the father of someone I know was killed. He recently became a grandfather, and I feel awful for the family. I may know others when the victims' names are released on Sunday (or at least I'll know someone who knows someone). We've now seen shootings with multiple casualties in places of worship such as Charleston, South Carolina and Sutherland Springs, Texas in the last few years. This is in addition to shootings at Virginia Tech, Stoneman Douglas High School, Sandy Hook Elementary School, a concert in Las Vegas, an Orlando club, countless workplace shootings, and so many others. This is where I'm angry. Mass shootings happen ALL THE TIME. Outside of Pittsburgh, Saturday's shooting at Tree of Life will be likely be out of the news cycle in a few days.

After Saturday’s shooting, President Trump spoke to reporters before boarding Air Force One. As part of his remarks, he said, "If there was an armed guard inside the temple, they would have been able to stop him."

I don't swear on this blog and rarely due in person, but fuck you. Seriously, fuck you. You have no empathy whatsoever. You're blaming the victims because there wasn't an armed guard immediately after the shooting occurred. Four highly trained police officers were wounded when facing the shooter. There was certainly plenty of security in Las Vegas when over 50 people were killed at a concert. Why is it assumed that an armed guard would be successful in stopping someone with multiple guns including an automatic weapon in a surprise attack? Plus, why would we want to live in a country where we need armed guards at places of worship? Do you really want armed guards at every restaurant, grocery store, daycare, hardwood store, laundromat, etc.? Guns are definitely part of the problem. I know I've written this before, but I attended a school district that had the day off for the first day of deer hunting season. My high school also had a hugely successful rifle team. In general, I don't have an issue with guns. What I do have an issue with is the types of guns available and that we don't have laws (or enforce laws) that make it difficult for people to obtain them. Why don't we have universal background checks or require a license to own a gun? I'm really not interested in having a debate about this as mass shootings continue to happen. And if you think a good person with a gun or having armed personnel everywhere is going to solve everything, you're delusional. How many accidental deaths will there be from a "good person with a gun" shooting someone they think is a bad person with a gun? Will all of these guns be properly secured? Let's say there is someone with a gun with the intention of doing harm. If everyone has a gun, will people just start shooting anyone else with a gun thinking they are the bad guy? How will police distinguish the bad guy in this situation?

Back to the sad part. I spent Saturday with my family knowing that the shooting in Pittsburgh occurred and wanting to know more of what was going on, but I wasn't about to turn on the TV in front of the kids. How do we explain to our 7 and 4 year-old kids that there was a shooting in a synagogue? They see police at our synagogue during the High Holidays, but they don't understand why. Now, it seems like they will be there all the time. My one year old will likely always see police at synagogues. And this makes me sad. Why can't we pray and be part of a community where we don’t have to worry about our safety? Maybe I’m being na├»ve here. Something has to change. We don't need more VegasStrong or PittsburghStrong slogans.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Very well written and I agree 100%. Anybody who doesn't swear in reaction to this nation's gun crisis isn't fucking paying attention.