Tree of Life in Pittsburgh
(Editor’s Note: As our website is still in development, we were not planning on placing such content up yet, but the events of today warranted an immediate story)
This morning’s attack on a Shabbat service at Tree of Life in Pittsburgh reverberated throughout the country.
According to reports, 46-year-old Robert Bowers entered the building this morning, shouted “All these Jews need to die” and opened fire, killing 11 and wounding six, including four police officers. He was taken into custody.
A social media page of his, which has been taken down, was filled with anti-Semitic rantings. One of his online targets was HIAS, which he said is bringing in immigrants “that kill our people” and “I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in.”
He also had numerous anti-Trump posts, claiming that the president is the puppet of Jews.
At the heart of the Christian Zionist movement is a commitment to stand up against anti-Semitism and stand arm-in-arm with the Jewish people whenever they are attacked. Some of Israel’s most ardent Christian supporters made comments and issued statements condemning the attack.
One of the first to comment was Pastor Robert Somerville, executive director of Awareness Ministry in Huntsville and a strong supporter of Israel.
“Just wanted you to know that we are in prayer for your Jewish community in Pittsburgh,” he wrote in an email to Jewish friends. “Unfortunately, the graciousness of the Jewish community often leaves you vulnerable.”
“I’ll not accept it if there is any suggestions that this is simply random, or does not have some anti-Semitic elements woven into it,” he added.
A statement was released nationally by Pastor John Hagee, founder and chairman of Christians United for Israel, an educational and advocacy group with 4.5 million members.
“With hearts full of grief, we stand with our Jewish brothers and sisters all across America today as we mourn the murder of members of Pittsburgh’s Jewish community,” said Hagee.
“Words cannot sufficiently convey the depth of our heartbreak upon learning a man fueled by vile anti-Semitic hatred burst into a sacred place of worship and attacked families as they prayed, leading to the death of 11 people and injuring multiple others,” he added.
Birmingham’s Heather Johnston, director of JH Israel and the U.S.-Israel Education Association, and one of Israel’s most dedicated Christian supporters, wrote this to her Jewish friends: “Our dear loved ones! We are horrified and saddened by the senseless murders that took place today at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.”
Added Johnston, “It’s so pitiful that the pernicious spirit of anti-Semitism lives on after so much exposure and education in our generation. It’s really hard to believe that we still live with this.”
“Please know our prayers are with you, our Jewish brothers and sisters in Pittsburgh, and everywhere,” she added.
Comments also came from retired General Charles Krulak, a former Commandant of the Marine Corps and member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Krulak, also a former president of Birmingham-Southern College and another one of Israel’s influential Christian supporters, wrote, “Words cannot express the sadness I feel over the tragic, senseless events that occurred in Pittsburgh. I am literally ill over the fact that our world continues to be infested with individuals who live lives of prejudice and hatred.”
“Having visited Yad Vashem (Israel’s memorial to the Holocaust) just last week, this latest atrocity and manifestation of anti-Semitism is too raw to even articulate,” added Krulak.
The Pittsburgh synagogue tragedy is expected to be a focal point of a previously-planned gathering in Huntsville on Oct. 28, which has been organized by Christian leaders to express their solidarity with Israel and the Jewish community.
The Alabama Celebrates Israel event will be at 5 p.m. at The Rock Family Worship Center.
“In this moment of such deep grief and heartbreak, know we love you, we weep with you, and we stand with you,” John Buhler, one of the organizers of the Sunday night gathering, wrote in an email.
“In the face of such vicious hatred, anti-Semitism and atrocity, know you are not alone,” he added. “There are multitudes who sincerely seek the welfare of the Jewish people, and are determined to walk with you — whatever it takes, however long it takes.”