Nation remembers the victims of the Tree of Life on the 4th anniversary

Amid the ongoing fallout over anti-Semitic comments made by Kanye West, people around the country paused Thursday to remember the victims of the Tree of Life massacre on the fourth anniversary of a mass shooting that left 11 people dead at a Pittsburgh synagogue in the which is still the most lethal attack. about the Jewish community in the United States.

President Biden released a statement mourning the victims, their families and “countless others forever scarred by this heinous attack.”

“On October 27, 2018, a quiet Sabbath morning was shattered by gunfire and hatred, and a place of sanctuary became a place of carnage,” Biden said. “In the four years since that terrible day, the people of Pittsburgh have shown us what it means to be stronger than hate. Welcoming the community to Torah study sessions. Showing their support for refugees and immigrants. Reimagining the Tree of Life synagogue as both shrine and memorial The courage and character of the Pittsburgh community continues to be an inspiration to us all.

A woman dressed in black squats with her face in her hands in front of a memorial on a sidewalk.

A woman stands at a temporary memorial outside the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh on October 29, 2018. (Matt Rourke/AP)

“As we mourn this deadly act of antisemitism in American history, we stand with the community of Squirrel Hill — and Jewish communities across America and around the world — in our resolve to fight antisemitism and hatred in all its forms. This is especially true as we witness an ugly rise in antisemitism in America.

“The rabbis teach that ‘what comes from the heart comes into the heart,'” the president added. “On this difficult day, our hearts go out to the families of the victims, the survivors and all those affected by the Tree of Life shooting. May their memories be a blessing and may we continue to build bridges between the world we see, and the future we seek.”

A man wearing a yarmulke in front of a large menorah.

Rabbi Jeffrey Myers watches the installation of a menorah outside the Tree of Life Synagogue weeks after the shooting. (Gene J. Puskar/AP)

According to the Anti-Defamation League, there was a 34% increase in the number of anti-Semitic incidents — defined as anti-Semitic harassment, vandalism or assault — in the United States over the previous year, the largest increase since the ADL began tracking anti-Semitic incidents in 1979. And according to the FBI’s annual hate crime data, crimes against the Jewish community consistently account for over half of all religion-based crimes.

ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt believes the increase is due to a “normalization of anti-Semitism.”

“We live in a politically charged environment and Jews are the best scapegoat,” Greenblatt told Yahoo News in a recent interview. “They just are.”

Police said the suspected Tree of Life gunman, Robert Gregory Bowers, was enraged by what he perceived as Jewish support for immigration. He was charged with 63 federal charges, including hate crimes, and pleaded not guilty. His trial is expected to begin next year.

A person carrying a backpack, seen from behind, observes a memorial to victims of the synagogue.

A person stands at a memorial outside the Tree of Life synagogue. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images)

The anniversary of the massacre comes as companies and organizations continue to distance themselves from West – who now goes by the name Ye – after the rapper and fashion designer made several anti-Semitic remarks.

“This week’s observance of four years since the deadly Tree of Life Synagogue shooting highlights that we must always condemn anti-Semitism and bigotry here and around the world — including from celebrities like Kanye West,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. tweeted this week. “Being a celebrity is not a license to incite violence.”

Pittsburgh’s three major professional sports teams paid tribute to the victims of the Tree of Life with a unified message.

“Today and every day we honor and remember the victims of the tragedy in the Tree of Life,” Steelers, Pirates and Penguins each posted on their respective Twitter feeds. “We must always be #StrongerThanHate.”

“We are stronger than hate” Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf tweeted. “That’s not who we are as Pennsylvanians. That’s not who we are as Americans.”

“Four years ago, our Jewish community and city were attacked,” Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey said in a statement. “Today we remember the 11 lives taken from us in the attack at the Tree of Life Synagogue and recommit ourselves to the hard work of ending violence, discrimination and anti-Semitism every single day.”

Additional reporting by Alexander Nazaryan.

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