York Jewish Community Center releases statement in response to Pittsburgh shooting

PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 28: A bird flies over the site of the mass shooting that killed 11 people and wounded 6 at the Tree Of Life Synagogue on October 28, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Suspected gunman Richard Bowers, 46, has been charged with 29 federal counts in the mass shooting that police say was fueled by antisemitism. Suspected gunman Richard Bowers, 46, has been charged with 29 federal counts in the mass shooting that police say was fueled by antisemitism. (Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)

YORK, York County, Pa. — The York Jewish Community Center (JCC) has released a statement following the mass shooting at the Tree of ife Synagogue in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood on Oct. 24.

York JCC CEO Dani Fessler released the following statement:

The American Jewish Community found itself under the worst hate-driven attack in its entire history. Eleven dead and many more injured from a villainous attack of innocent people, on their day of prayer, day of rest, in their place of worship.

The fact that this attack was done solely because they are Jews makes it doubly painful for us. The history of the Jewish people is strewn with the blood of innocent men, women, and children, having been murdered by anti-Semites, haters, and mass murderers.

As we are writhing in pain, shocked, and our hearts with the families of the dead, we also remember our history as people who have been persecuted for our faith. Calls of condemnation echo from around the world, but will they be enough to prevent the next racist attack on innocent people?

For centuries, the Jewish people have had to deal with such persecutions. The governments increased enforcement, improved security, and yet these measures did not prevent extremists from raising their head to attack our people wherever we were.

Our history teaches us that despite the pain and the great suffering we have experienced over the years, decades, centuries even, and although every Passover we remind ourselves that “every generation someone rises to destroy the Jews,” we stand firm, like a lighthouse for the world.

Our faith gives us strength to continue in our way with our primary mission of Tikkun Olam, repairing the world – all of it.

The shock and pain we feel now for and with our brothers and sisters in congregation Tree of Life in Pittsburgh, will be replaced with creativity, building, renewal, doing, and promoting wellness and improving quality of life for all human beings on earth.

Our York JCC is an example for living together, with human beings of diverse backgrounds all respecting each other and their way of life. But today, we must ask ourselves, “Are we immune from such a heinous attack? Can such a terrorist rise and hurt those who come to our gates?”

Although we work tirelessly, with dedication to create a community based on tolerance, respect, and value of life and diversity, red flags must be raised in our homes.

We must strengthen our purpose and our vision as a community, where everyone is welcome, and persist in our way and work tirelessly, through educational activities, which place values of tolerance, pluralism, and diversity at its core to uproot expressions and demonstrations of hate from within us. I believe with on-going dialogue, educating the next generation, and in adhering to our values, we will dissolve prejudice that leads to violent action of any kind.

Our JCC is proud to serve a diverse community of people who all look for the best in others and aspire for the best in themselves.