In Pittsburgh, Jewish doctors treated Bowers for his injuries (& Gab forced off line)

October 30, 2018

I attach ten further articles that I have selected on the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre -- Tom Gross



1. At hospital, shooter shouts, ‘I want to kill all Jews!’ while Jewish doctors saved his life
2. GoDaddy, PayPal, & others force Gab offline following Pittsburgh synagogue shooting
3. Jerry Rabinowitz, doctor who ran to treat those shot in synagogue, paid with his life
4. Hundreds say Kaddish for the Jewish doctor who always stood for others
5. Holocaust survivor cheated death at Pittsburgh Synagogue massacre by 4 minutes
6. The nation-state of the Jews must recognize Conservative and Reform Judaism
7. The Old Anti-Semitism in the New World
8. “As a black boy growing up in Pittsburgh, I always felt welcome in Squirrel Hill”
9. Far left activists disrupt moment of silence for synagogue attack victims
10. Columbia Univ statement on Pittsburgh fails to mention Jews or anti-Semitism



At hospital, massacre suspect shouts, ‘I want to kill all the Jews!’ Jewish doctors save his life
By Sarah Taylor
The Blaze
October 29, 2018

Jewish doctors and nurses saved the life of the suspected anti-Semitic mass killer even as he was screaming anti-Semitic sentiments in the hospital’s hallways.

According to local TV reports, the suspect in Saturday’s mass murder at a Pittsburgh synagogue was raving about hating Jewish people as he was brought into the hospital for treatment of his injuries.

Police shot the man suspected of carrying out the murder of 11 people at the Tree of Life Synagogue multiple times before he surrendered. After his surrender, the suspect was taken to nearby Allegheny General Hospital for treatment of his gunshot wounds.

Dr. Jeff Cohen, who is president of Allegheny General Hospital as well as a parishioner at the Tree of Life Synagogue, spoke to WJET-TV, where he recounted the moments following the massacre, and what it was like when the suspect was brought into the hospital.

“He was taken to my hospital and he’s shouting, ‘I want to kill all the Jews!’” Cohen said. “The first three people who took care of him were Jewish.”

Another nurse – whose father is a rabbi – had just entered the hospital from a mass casualty drill and took care of the suspect.

Cohen said that he was one of the very first professionals on the scene and was able to hear the gunfire from his home.

“I was standing there … and you could start hearing very quickly what was going on,” he explained.

Cohen said that it was simply his duty to care for sick people, no matter who they are or what they’ve done.

“We are here to take care of sick people. We’re not here to judge you. We’re not here to ask ‘Do you have insurance or do you not have insurance?’ We’re here to take care of people who need our help,” he said, later revealing that he’d had a conversation with the suspect after he was stabilized.

“When I stopped in, I asked [the suspect] how he was doing. Was he in pain? And he said no, he was fine,” Cohen said.

In response, the suspect reportedly asked Cohen who he was.

“I said I’m Dr. Cohen, president of the hospital. Then I turned around and left,” he explained. “The FBI agent who was guarding him said, ‘I don’t know if I could have done that.’ And I said, ‘If you were in my shoes, I’m sure you could.’”

Authorities charged the suspect with 29 federal charges in connection with Saturday’s massacre. hosted anti-Semitic hate sites (example above)


‘We have informed that they have 24 hours to move the domain to another registrar,’ a spokesman for GoDaddy says
October 30, 2018, the website where the suspected Pittsburgh synagogue gunman posted anti-Semitic views, said on Sunday it was offline for a period of time after being asked by its domain provider to move to another registrar.

The move comes after GoDaddy Inc asked Gab to change the domain, while PayPal Holdings Inc, Stripe Inc and Joynet Inc blocked the website.

“We have informed that they have 24 hours to move the domain to another registrar,” a spokesman for GoDaddy said, adding the site violated its terms of service and hosted content that “promotes and encourages violence against people.”

The 46-year-old suspect Robert Bowers in the shooting incident has been charged with murdering 11 people on Saturday in the deadliest attack ever on the Jewish community in the United States. Hours earlier, he posted on, saying a non-profit that helps Jewish refugees relocate to the country was helping to kill “my people.”

“ is under attack. We have been systematically no-platformed by App Stores, multiple hosting providers, and several payment processors,” the website said, adding that it was working around the clock to get back online.

PayPal banned the website from using its money-sending services on Saturday. Gab said on Saturday it received notice it would be blocked by another payments website, Stripe Inc, and had switched to a new web-hosting service after Joyent Inc warned it would cut off the website.

Gab did not say who the new web host was. The company posted on Twitter on Sunday, “FREE SPEECH WILL ALWAYS WIN.”

Founded in 2016 by conservative Andrew Torba, Gab bills itself as the “free speech” alternative to Twitter Inc (TWTR.N) and Facebook Inc (FB.O) and has become a popular place to post content unwelcome or prohibited on other platforms.

Bowers, 46, joined the site in January.

Notable users include right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos and Andrew Anglin, the founder of the neo-Nazi Daily Stormer website, as well as media personalities Alex Jones and Carl Benjamin.

The free website charges for access to additional features and also raises money on the crowdfunding website StartEngine.

Torba did not respond to a request for comment on Sunday.

Utsav Sanduja, Gab’s former chief operating officer, said the company and its mission will survive “guilt by association” and could do more fundraising through cryptocurrencies in order to bypass tech companies.

“We created Gab for the purpose of letting off steam not to kill. That was not our intention,” he said.

In earlier statements, the website said it was cooperating with law enforcement authorities and described the moves by PayPal and others as acts of “direct collusion between big tech giants.” It also called on U.S. President Donald Trump to act.

PayPal declined to comment beyond an earlier statement that the company takes immediate action when “a site is allowing the perpetuation of hate, violence or discriminatory intolerance.”

Joyent could not immediately be reached, and Stripe declined to comment on individual users.

Sanduja did say that there could be room for Gab to improve.

“The mission should not change, but certainly there does need to be better checks and balances in place,” he said.

Sanduja said he left his role at the website in June after Gab users threatened his life and that of his wife, who works at a synagogue.

On Sunday, Gab’s forum lit up with comments about the Pittsburgh attack. One user celebrated Gab being banned by PayPal while another user responded, “You are going to get shot at ur local synagogue.” Another posted, “I WAS RIGHT, THEY FAKED THE SYNAGOGUE SHOOTING.”

Gab raised $1 million through crowdfunding last year, but recorded a loss of $201,704, according to a document filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Microsoft Corp said in an emailed statement that it terminated Gab’s accounts on its Azure cloud computing platform last month.

Alphabet Inc’s Google and Apple Inc’s mobile app stores previously blocked Gab, cutting off a crucial source of access to new users.

Facebook’s archive of ads that it considers political in nature shows Gab has run only one such ad since May. It paid less than $100 for that ad and generated 1,000 to 5,000 views last month, according to the archive.

The company had no active ad campaigns on Facebook or Twitter Inc as of Saturday, according to those companies’ ad transparency databases. Gab’s account on Twitter warned users on Saturday to expect that they would be banned from that website and Facebook soon.

A Facebook spokeswoman said the company is reviewing Gab’s presence on its website. Twitter declined to comment.

(Tom Gross adds: See also here – the anti-Semitic lies on Facebook.)



Jerry Rabinowitz was childless but this is a Facebook tribute from his nephew in Israel, Avishai Ostrin, who is close friends with several subscribers to this list.

-- Tom Gross

He always wore a bowtie. There is just something about guys who wear bowties. Something youthful, something fun. And that is a word that definitely embodied my Uncle Jerry – fun. You know how they say there are people who just lighten up a room? You know that cliché about people whose laugh is infectious? That was Uncle Jerry. It wasn’t a cliché. It was just his personality. His laughter, with his chest heaving up and down, with a huge smile on his face – that was uncle Jerry. And that bowtie. That bowtie that you know made people smile, you know made his patients more at ease.

In addition to being the president of the congregation, he was a doctor, a healer. I just learned a short while ago that although the shooter traveled within the building looking for victims, Uncle Jerry wasn’t killed in the basement of the building where the congregation was Davening, he was shot outside the room. Why? Because when he heard shots he ran outside to try and see if anyone was hurt and needed a doctor. That was Uncle Jerry, that’s just what he did.

An unfortunate reality of living in Israel is that you always assume – if not consciously then subconsciously – that sad news, news about death, news about attacks, will come from this side of the globe. The last thing that occurs to you, the last thing you imagine, is that news about an attack will come from your family living in Pittsburgh, PA. It is unthinkable that such a heinous act can be carried out in such a place, to people peacefully congregating in order to pray together. And it is so hard. It is so hard to be so far away, to be on the other side of the ocean, rather than hugging your loved ones, grieving with them. My heart goes out to Aunt Miri, Uncle Dan, Uncle Sam, my mother, my dear Bubbie and Zaide, and of course to the entire Rabinowitz family.

If there was one message I would encourage us all to take from this, and one message that I think Uncle Jerry would have wanted us to learn from this, it would be a message of love, unity, and of the strength and resilience of the Jewish people. Because those who seek to do us harm are trying to take that from us. Those who seek to do us harm hope that these actions will divide us, drive us to hatred and war. We must therefore show them, show the world, that we always grow stronger, more loving, we become even more united, and the memory of our loved ones will be a blessing to us all.

I love you Uncle Jerry. May your memory be a blessing.



In Pittsburgh, Hundreds Rise and Say Kaddish for the Jewish Doctor Who Always Stood for Others
Jerry Rabinowitz always stood during the Jewish prayer for mourning, saying he had no children who would one day stand for him, so he stood for others who had no one to honor their memory. His entire community stood for him Sunday.
By Dina Kraft
October 30, 2018

A particular custom of Dr. Jerry Rabinowitz was noted Sunday at a memorial service honoring him and the 10 other Jews murdered at a Pittsburgh synagogue on Saturday.

Week after week, year after year, he stood and chanted the words of the Kaddish (mourning prayer) in Aramaic at his Reconstructionist congregation – even though traditionally Ashkenazim (Jews of European descent) only rise when they themselves are in mourning.

At Sunday’s service, it was recalled that when Rabinowitz was asked why he always stood even though custom did not require it, he would say it was because he had no children who would one day stand up for him, so he stood for others who had no one to stand for them.

When the Kaddish was read at Sunday’s memorial ceremony, the 300 mourners rose as one, and stood and prayed in his memory. They ended with the words: “May there be abundant peace from heaven, and life, for us and for all Israel; and say, Amen. He who creates peace in His celestial heights, may He create peace for us and for all Israel; and say, Amen.”

Among the mourners was Brian Primack, a friend of Rabinowitz and a fellow member of the congregation he helped lead.

“There is sort of a debate about this in the Jewish community. Some people say that it is good to stand with others who are mourning, and others say that it is better to stay seated if you are not formally mourning a relative so that when you are mourning, your standing is somehow more meaningful.

“Given this experience and the loss of Jerry, I can say that from now on, I will now always stand, as he did, both for him and for others who have no one to stand for them.”

Rabinowitz was remembered as a deeply caring physician and friend, easily recognizable with his trademark bow tie and smiling face, and as one of the first doctors in Pittsburgh to treat HIV-positive patients. He was a leader of Dor Hadash, the Reconstructionist congregation that met in the synagogue (one of three different congregations that hold services in the building).

The congregation that was the main focus of Saturday’s attack was holding services in one part of the building, while Dor Hadash met in a separate section at the same time.

Avishai Ostrin, Rabinowitz’s nephew, wrote a Facebook post explaining that his uncle had been killed while trying to help others.

Ostrin wrote, “When he heard shots he ran outside to try and see if anyone was hurt and needed a doctor. That was Uncle Jerry, that’s just what he did.”

He told Haaretz that this was the account his family had been given. “It speaks to his personality … he was extraordinary,” said Ostrin.

Primack told Haaretz that Rabinowitz ran to help when they heard a loud noise. Another Dor Hadash member, a nurse, was with him and is among the injured, according to Ostrin.

Primack described Rabinowitz in a statement: “Jerry was more than a pillar of our community. … He was a gifted teacher, a truly caring family doctor, and a tremendous community leader.

“He was the first to get to the Shabbat service so he could set up chairs – and then the last to leave so he could clean up and organize the books. … I will deeply miss his smile, his wit, his positivity, and his consistent urge to help,” he added.

Ostrin said his uncle had patients who were the third generation in their family to be treated by him.

“It shows how committed he was to his patients,” he said. “His bow ties, his laughter – this is what stands out to me; he had this happy-go-lucky personality.”



Holocaust Survivor Cheated Death At Pittsburgh Synagogue Massacre By 4 Minutes
By Josh Nathan-Kazis
The Forward
October 28, 2018

Judah Samet was four minutes late to synagogue.

Services at Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh start at 9:45 A.M. Samet, who is 80 years old, pulled into a handicapped spot in front of the building on the morning of October 27 at 9:49.

“Somebody knocked on my window,” Samet said the next day. “There was this guy. Very calm and respectful. [He] told me, you better back up, there is an active shooting going on in your synagogue.”

It took Samet sixty seconds to process what the man was saying. Samet was born in Hungary. He turned eight years old at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany. He spent five and a half years in an orphanage in Israel. He has been a member of Tree of Life Congregation for fifty-five years.

“My God, my story doesn’t end,” he said.

Samet turned. Standing three feet away from him, on the other side of the car, was a police officer with a pistol drawn. “He was popping his head out from behind a wall and shooting,” Samet said.

Samet looked to see who the police officer was shooting, and saw a man aiming an automatic weapon in his direction. “He was shooting towards the cop, who was about four feet away from me,” Samet said. He saw the men exchange fire.

“I saw smoking coming out of his muzzle,” Samet said. “I was in the line of fire.”

Samet tried to back his car out of the parking lot, but other cars were trying to do the same thing. The attacker wasn’t aiming at him. “None of the bullets hit me or hit my car,” Samet said. “The policeman could kill him.”

Samet knew virtually everyone who the attacker, Robert Bowers, allegedly murdered that day. He was a leading figure at Tree of Life; had been the designated Torah chanter for four decades, and had led morning services for years. Two years ago, he led services at the shiva for synagogue member Joyce Fienberg’s husband. She was shot dead on Saturday morning. “She was a real lady,” Samet said. “She completely dedicated her life to the synagogue since her husband died.”

Samet was friendly with Sylvan and Bernice Simon, the 86 and 84 year old who were murdered together in the synagogue sanctuary. Samet and Sylvan Simon would talk about their time as paratroopers, Samet in the Israeli army and Sylvan in the U.S. army.

Irving Younger, 69, usually stood by the door of the sanctuary, Samet said, and greeted people as they arrived. He would have been the first person the attacker saw when he assaulted the service. Younter was among the dead on Saturday.

Cecil Rosenthal, 59, who was developmentally disabled, also sat near the door. “Everybody loved him,” Samet said. He and his brother, David Rosenthal, were both murdered.

Samet said that Rose Mallinger, who was in her 90’s, would attend the service each week with her daughter. “They sit behind me,” Samet said. “If I was inside the synagogue, I would be in the line of fire.”

More than anything on Sunday, Samet seemed to be going back in his mind to the 1940s, when the Nazis tortured and murdered his family. His father died of typhoid shortly after the war.

“My mother was the interpreter,” he said. “She spoke fluent German. She saved hundreds of Jews.”

The Nazis put Samet’s family on a train to Auschwitz, but Slovakian partisans blew up the railroad line. The Samets ended up in a large lumberyard owned by a man with a large swastika tattooed on his chest, which he would show the family.

“My mother taught us never listen what they have to say,” Samet said. “Look at their hands. Because words cannot kill you.”

On Sunday afternoon, Samet was preparing to travel to a local church to tell the story of his family’s experience in the Holocaust. He said he would likely say something about what he had been through the day before.

Asked what his mother, Rachel Samet, would have said about the massacre he survived on Saturday, Samet said: “It just never ends.”



What Israel Owes American Jews
The nation-state of the Jews must recognize Conservative and Reform Judaism.
By Michael B. Oren
New York Times
Oct. 30, 2018

(Mr. Oren is a deputy minister in the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.)

JERUSALEM – The massacre of 11 worshipers in a Pittsburgh synagogue has profoundly shocked Israelis. Though seemingly desensitized by years of terror on our buses and streets, much of this voluble country has been left speechless by the news of Jews being gunned down during Shabbat prayers by a ranting anti-Semite.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuben Rivlin fiercely condemned the massacre and expressed full solidarity with our American brothers and sisters. Naftali Bennet, the minister for diaspora affairs, flew immediately to Pennsylvania. And yet, for all these expressions of sympathy, Israel still refuses to recognize the Conservative movement to which all 11 victims belonged.

Conservative as well as Reform weddings and conversions performed in Israel are not accepted by the country’s chief rabbinate. The Tree of Life synagogue where the massacre took place was not even a real synagogue according to Israel’s chief rabbis. The victims, murdered solely for being Jewish, practiced a brand of Judaism that, along with all other liberal streams of Judaism, is not deemed sufficiently Jewish for the Jewish state.

Such disrespect contrasts starkly with American Jewish contributions to Israel. The record is everywhere: The names of American Jewish philanthropists are emblazoned on our ambulances, university dorms, homes for the elderly and centers for disabled veterans. American Jews have helped forest our hills and raise up our poor, unearth our past and forge our technological future. According to Israeli government statistics, investments and contributions from Jews living overseas – the bulk of them Americans – accounted for 6.35 percent of our gross domestic product, the equivalent of Israel’s defense budget.

Given all of this, why would Israel refuse to recognize the Conservative and Reform streams, which represent the majority of American Jews?

One reason is democracy. Though steadily growing, the Reform and Conservative communities in Israel remain small, while the Orthodox and Ultra-Orthodox together account for 20 percent of the electorate and are rapidly expanding. Most of them view the liberal strains of Judaism as a heresy.

Such views are not shared by the majority of Israelis, yet Orthodox and Ultra-Orthodox parties wield enormous political weight in our parliamentary system. Their support gives Israeli coalitions the stability necessary to grapple with our complex social and security challenges. Confronted with Orthodox opposition to the liberal American Jewish streams, Israeli governments must often choose between acknowledging their legitimacy and effectively managing and defending the state. Accordingly, not only our current government but also every coalition going back to 1948, right and left, has refrained from recognizing the Reform and Conservative movements.

Another reason for the current situation is longstanding disagreements over core Jewish issues. For decades, the world’s two largest Jewish communities differed over the definition of “who’s a Jew” – the Israeli government hews to the traditional requirement of matrilineal descent and Orthodox conversions, while liberal American congregations admit members born only of Jewish fathers and even those unwilling to undergo any conversion – so-called Jews of choice.

More recently, numerous American Jews supported the Iran nuclear deal, which Israelis viewed as disastrous to our security, and opposed moving the American Embassy to Jerusalem, celebrated by Israelis as a long-awaited acceptance of our eternal capital.

These schisms and more have eroded the willingness of many Israeli legislators to please American Jews at the price of political instability. The June 2017 decision by the Israeli government to withdraw from those parts of the Western Wall agreement that would have guaranteed equal status for all the streams at our holiest site reflected this tension.

But such disputes cannot be allowed to fracture the Jewish unity on which Israel is predicated. Beyond the financial, political and even strategic considerations, Israel is morally obligated to preserve Jewish peoplehood. Even before we received the Ten Commandments, as slaves in Egypt, we were a people – as Moses demanded: “Let my people go.”

Israel was founded as the nation-state of the Jews, irrespective of where they live or how they practice – or do not practice – their Judaism. All Jews should regard Israel as their ancestral homeland, the realization of thousands of years of yearning, devotion and dreams, no less if they live on Long Island than in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv. And if Israelis expect Reform and Conservative Jews to consider Israel as their spiritual homeland, then the recognition must be reciprocal. It fulfills our raison d’être.

It is also mandated by law. Last July 19, our Knesset passed the “Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People.” Though controversial in Israel and abroad, the nation-state law commits Israel to uphold its role as the national home of all Jews and to strengthen ties with the Jews of the diaspora, especially those threatened because they are Jews. It calls on Israel “to preserve the cultural, historical, and religious heritage of the Jewish people,” including those in America. The nonrecognition of Conservative and Reform Judaism is incompatible with both the intent and the spirit of the law.

In the aftermath of this horrific massacre, the Israel government must do more than express condolences. Threatened by rising anti-Semitism, American-Jewish communities need to know that Israel is behind them and not only in words. Now is the time to realize our historic mission, comply with our own law and reinforce the unity that has sustained us for thousands of years, through exiles, expulsions, genocide and rebirth.

By recognizing Conservative and Reform Jewry, Israel will not only defy the anti-Semites but also, more important, reaffirm itself.



The Old Anti-Semitism in the New World
Attackers scapegoat Jews for both hurting and helping Muslims.
By Eliora Katz
Wall Street Journal
October 29, 2018

As the sun set in Paris Saturday, I returned from synagogue. I opened my phone after 25 hours of abstaining from electronics to read that Robert Bowers had allegedly opened fire in a Pittsburgh synagogue, murdering 11.

Such news is more common in France. French Jews today are murdered in synagogues, supermarkets, schools and their homes. The Fifth Republic has deployed military guards in front of Jewish institutions throughout the country. Will America also resort to this ugly Band-Aid, which fails to address the underlying malady?

While in form the slayings in Pittsburgh and France seem similar, they differ notably in their motives. In France most attacks are part of what is sometimes called “the new anti-Semitism,” stemming from France’s growing Muslim population. Mohamed Merah murdered three young children and a rabbi outside a French Jewish school in 2012 because, he said, “the Jews kill our brothers and sisters in Palestine.” Amedy Coulibaly, who killed four people in a kosher grocery store in 2015, did so in the name of “oppressed Muslims.”

Mr. Bowers’s complaint appears to have been precisely the opposite. He posted on the social network Gab: “Open you Eyes! It’s the filthy evil jews Bringing the Filthy evil Muslims into the Country!!” Anti-Semitism defies the law of noncontradiction, and that’s nothing new: Jews have been persecuted and blamed for both capitalism and communism.

Yet Baroness Jenny Tonge, a member of the British House of Lords, attempted to tie Pittsburgh to Israel. She posted: “Absolutely appalling and a criminal act, but does it ever occur to Bibi [Netanyahu] and the present Israeli government that it’s [sic] actions against Palestinians may be reigniting anti-Semitism?”

Similarly, in April 2016 a Black Lives Matter supporter asked Sen. Bernie Sanders: “What is your affiliation to the Jewish community?” The man prefaced the question with the claim that “the Zionist Jews . . . run the Federal Reserve, they run Wall Street, they run every campaign.”

Mr. Sanders replied that he is “proud to be Jewish.” But instead of challenging the question’s premise, he said that although he supports Israel, “we have got to pay attention to the needs of the Palestinian people.” By responding to a Jewish conspiracy theory with his views on Israel, Mr. Sanders lent legitimacy to the cloaking of anti-Semitism in anti-Zionism.

The success of American Jews means that, in the game of identity politics, Jews are classified as “white,” and therefore the racist character of anti-Semitism is denied. The liberal political scientist Yascha Mounktweeted Saturday that an unidentified editor had told him, in Mr. Mounk’s paraphrase: “You cannot, in 2018, call the murder of Jews in the United States racist in a left-leaning publication.”

The atrocity in Pittsburgh illustrates that anti-Semites target Jews because they object to our existence, not what we believe. In a sense this is liberating. It means we should continue to stand up for what is important to us – be it Israel or refugees.



Why Squirrel Hill Is a Target for White Supremacists
As a black boy growing up in Pittsburgh, I always felt welcome in Squirrel Hill. White nationalists hate the inclusion and diversity that it represents.
By Andre Perry
New York Times
October 30, 2018

“Mineo’s Pizza House in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, makes the best pepperoni and sausage pizza in the world.”

Those were words to live by as a child growing up in the early 1980s in the black neighborhood of Wilkinsburg, in Pittsburgh’s East End. The deliciousness of Mineo’s pizza made the five miles my brothers and I biked through the predominately Jewish neighborhood of Squirrel Hill well worth it. But the sweet cheese and fresh meats weren’t the only things that brought us back. We didn’t dare enter certain neighborhoods for fear of scrapping with white boys or not being served. Squirrel Hill was one of the few nonblack neighborhoods that would welcome a group of black boys.

Up to that point, I hadn’t had much experience with people in nonblack communities. But my bike rides to Mineo’s taught me there was a difference between the Jews in Squirrel Hill and other white people in Pittsburgh. Later on, I learned what contributed to that difference.

In 1988, I transferred to Peabody High School, in the other significant Jewish neighborhood, Highland Park. It was right next to the majority-black areas of East Liberty and Garfield, and the fully integrated public school reflected the area’s diversity. I had history teachers who made connections between the Hebrew Benevolent Congregation Temple bombing in 1958 in Atlanta, and the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in 1963 in Alabama, solidifying for me how vulnerable black and Jewish communities are to white supremacy.

I learned about Pittsburgh’s unique connection to modern Judaism and civil rights. Reform Jewish leaders developed and adopted the Pittsburgh Platform, which states, “We deem it our duty to participate in the great task of modern times, to solve, on the basis of justice and righteousness, the problems presented by the contrasts and evils of the present organization of society.”

As an athlete I competed against Jewish boys from another integrated school, Taylor Allderdice in Squirrel Hill. Sometimes after track meets, we got pizza at Mineo’s. Squirrel Hill’s vibrancy didn’t come by chance. We learned how to live together. There was a deliberate investment in inclusion and peace.

The Jewish community has been able to maintain that ethic of inclusion in Squirrel Hill. In 2018, blacks, immigrants and L.G.B.T. people crowd the streets with the same level of comfort I enjoyed as a child. Chatty college students in hoodies sit next to older Jews in skullcaps in coffee shops. When passengers step off the packed city buses along Forbes Avenue, they know they know they will be able to find whatever they need – an outfit for the weekend, a bite to eat, flowers for a date – in any of the shops on nearby Murray Avenue.

Squirrel Hill is the draw, and the Tree of Life synagogue is its nucleus. The spirit of inclusivity starts there, and spills out in the rest of neighborhood. You see it in the diversity of people and also in the diversity of businesses and cultural events. They are geared to invite and support all the residents of the city – past, present and future.

Squirrel Hill, of course, is not a utopia, and it doesn’t represent all of Pittsburgh. There were places in Pittsburgh I could not go to as a child, and where I still would not go as an adult. A fellow Pittsburgh native, Brentin Mock, pointed out in a recent CityLab column, “Squirrel Hill is the change that Pittsburgh wishes to be.” The rest of Pittsburgh can learn from Squirrel Hill that diversity is a crucial part of any thriving local economy.

Today the schools in Pittsburgh are less integrated than they were in the 1980s. That means there are fewer opportunities for teachers, or even students, to have meaningful discussions about the violence that is victimizing all of us. On Oct. 25, two black shoppers were killed in a Kroger supermarket, in Louisville, Ky. Two days later, 11 Jews were massacred at the Tree of Life synagogue. If our communities and schools are less integrated, less inclusive, how can teachers or anyone else hope to make the connections for us?

Instead, we have a president whose loose and divisive language sets the table for violence.

My classmates and I may have lived in separate communities, but we learned how to study, play, eat and shop together. We had teachers, schools and synagogues that, in word and deed, made everyone feel welcome and included. Places like Squirrel Hill, Tree of Life and others like them are powerful, but they are not protected. And they will not be as long as President Trump and his followers continue to stoke the white nationalist’s greatest fear – inclusion.






There is bewilderment among many at Columbia University, after the university issued a statement on the Pittsburgh shooting that didn’t mention Jews or anti-Semitism.

The statement, which was sent out to all students, did however mention the LGBT community and African-Americans.

This is the latest in a series of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel incidents at Columbia.


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