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Pittsburgh marks Shabbat in mourning

Netanyahu calls Tree of Life rabbi, Herzog visits victimized city
Pittsburghers buried the last victim of a massacre that shook their city to its core on Friday, shortly before Jewish residents entered their first Shabbat in mourning.

The headline of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette featured the first words of the Jewish mourner’s kaddish, underscoring the city’s widespread grief over a shooting at a synagogue last weekend that killed 11 congregants.The American Jewish Committee encouraged Jews and non-Jews across the country to “show up for Shabbat” over the weekend in a show of strength, fearlessness and solidarity with Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill victims. The social media campaign drew the attention of lawmakers and celebrities and brought thousands out to synagogues, some now guarded with cautionary layers of security.

Across America, leaders of both parties in Congress and candidates for office in Tuesday’s midterm elections went to local shuls. Lines formed outside of synagogues in the country’s largest cities. And the campaign spread overseas, from London and Brussels to Jerusalem, where local officials attended services in a gesture of support.

The Jewish Agency for Israel’s new chairman, Isaac Herzog, visited Pittsburgh this weekend to rally the community there. The agency coordinated last week with the Israel Trauma Coalition to send five grief specialists to Squirrel Hill in order to aid trauma victims.

Herzog has called for Jewish “unity” in the wake of the event, despite political differences within the Diaspora community, and called for “very firm action” in response to a spike in antisemitic incidents worldwide.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reached out to Rabbi Jeffrey Myers, who serves the synagogue that was targeted last weekend, with another message of support.“I called Rabbi Jeffrey Myers of the Tree of Life Synagogue to send once again my condolences to the bereaved families,” Netanyahu stated on Twitter, “and to express my appreciation for the dignified way that he has represented the Jewish community of Pittsburgh in the wake of this horrific attack on Jews.”

“I want to thank all the leaders in the United States and around the world who have condemned this horrendous antisemitic attack,” he continued, “and I want to thank President @realDonaldTrump for going with his family to pay their respects to the dead and to visit the wounded, and for his powerful statement that ‘those seeking their [the Jewish people’s] destruction– we will seek their destruction.’”

Trump responded forcefully to the massacre last weekend with condemnatory comments at a rally in Indianapolis. Later in the week, he visited Pittsburgh with his daughter and son-in-law, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, both observant Orthodox Jews who reportedly guided the president through the crisis.

The Tree of Life shooter, Robert Bowers, pleaded not guilty in court to federal charges on Thursday and requested a trial by jury. He entered the synagogue last Saturday armed with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle and several other weapons, declaring his intention to “kill all the Jews”.

He faces 44 charges, 32 of which are punishable by death.

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