|Artwork Credit: Chris Preksta
On Saturday morning a deranged man walked into a synagogue and shot 11 souls to death. He also shot and wounded two other members of the congregation. They were targeted because of their religion and murdered in their house of worship. Four police officers were also shot and wounded in the response. Make no mistake, this horrific massacre was a hate crime.
This time it happened in my city. At a synagogue I've driven by hundreds of times, each time admiring the stained glass windows. In a neighborhood where many friends and colleagues and students live. In a community where I work with several different schools, including the one right across the street. Squirrel Hil is my favorite neighborhood in the city.
I don't know any of the victims. I wasn't anywhere near Squirrel Hill when it happened. While I intend to pay my respects at the memorial, I don't want to cause more traffic or congestion in a dense neighborhood as the funerals for the victims take place. This is about them, not about me. Sometime next week, maybe.
To say it's rocked the Jewish community in Pittsburgh is an understatement. I'd even go as far as to say it's rocked the Jewish community in the entire US. It's rocked Pittsburgh to its core. It's rocked me too. But Pittsburgh is strong, and this city will prevail in the face of hate, all while surrounding the Jewish community with love.
I don't know what to say. If a place for worship is not safe, then where is safe? I can never wrap my head around mass shootings and the senseless loss of life that comes with them. But this time it's more personal because it happened in the city I call home.