Pittsburgh Terror Affects Jewish Atlanta Personally
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Pittsburgh Terror Affects Jewish Atlanta Personally

Atlanta’s Jewish community reacts with shock, grief, prayers and planning as numerous members of the community have ties to Pittsburgh.

Dave Schechter is a veteran journalist whose career includes writing and producing reports from Israel and elsewhere in the Middle East.

Thousands of uncounted paper ballots may change some races. Dec. 4 runoffs possible in some races.
Thousands of uncounted paper ballots may change some races. Dec. 4 runoffs possible in some races.

Terror at the Tree of Life synagogue in the heavily-Jewish Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh has caused Atlanta’s Jewish community to react with shock, grief, prayers and planning.

Shabbat morning horror at the Tree of Life synagogue in the heavily-Jewish Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh.

According to the Anti-Defamation League, the shootings leaving 11 congregants slain, four police officers and two congregants wounded is – “likely the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the history of the United States.”

As of late Saturday night, the identities of the dead had not been released by authorities.

Pittsburgh shooting alleged gunman, 46-year-old Robert Bowers – whose social media posts were replete with anti-Semitic vitriol and hatred of immigrants.

Twenty-nine federal charges have been filed against the alleged gunman, 46-year-old Robert Bowers – whose social media posts were replete with anti-Semitic vitriol and hatred of immigrants. The charges included 11 counts of obstruction of the exercise of religious beliefs resulting in death, 11 counts of using a firearm to commit murder during a crime of violence, four counts of obstruction of exercise of religious beliefs resulting in bodily injury to a public safety officer and three counts of use and discharge of a firearm during a crime of violence.

Federation President and CEO Eric Robbins praises the agency’s staff for supporting the process of change.

Numerous members of Atlanta’s Jewish community have ties to Pittsburgh. Among them Eric Robbins, Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta executive director, who grew up in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood, returned to Atlanta Saturday from a week in Israel. In a letter released by the Federation, he said, “Pittsburgh is the city I will always call home. It is the place where I always feel safe and secure. It is the Jewish community that helped me with comfort and hope through so much loss. How could there be a massacre in Pittsburgh – in a synagogue? People like me went to shul like they always do on Saturday morning, and a monster came and killed them. I don’t understand, and I don’t know that anyone can. I later heard one of the victim’s names. I remember him as one of the sweetest people to walk the earth. Now I await the names of the other 10 knowing I will have a connection to many of them.”

Beth Gluck, the Southern Zone Director for the Jewish National Fund.

Beth Gluck, the Southern Zone Director for the Jewish National Fund. “The attack was first and foremost an attack against my people. It was a premeditated anti-Semitic massacre.  And then, it became even more personal because it touched my community, a community that gave me so much as a young woman and a Jew. While my family in Pittsburgh is OK, nobody is OK,” Gluck said in a message to the Atlanta Jewish Times.

Temple Sinai in Sandy Springs has plans to adapt its Sunday morning learning program to focus on the terrorism at Tree of Life. Including a vigil, open to the community, on Sunday, Oct. 28 from 12:45 – 1:15 p.m.

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The Temple released this statement on Facebook: “It is a sad day for Jews around the world this Shabbat and our hearts and prayers are with the Jewish community of Pittsburgh. This act was directed at the soul of the entire Jewish community. The Temple shares in the grief resulting from this and every senseless act of violence.”

Atlanta police will be a visible presence outside The Temple throughout Sunday. All doors will be locked with entrance available through the chapel lobby and motor lobby.

Addressing parents, The Temple’s statement said, “We want you to know that all teachers, staff and madrichim are trained in lock-down procedures every year, and all classrooms and bathrooms have locks and shades for emergencies.”

Congregation Bet Haverim’s Facebook page included: “These violent anti-Semitic acts have no place in our society. Like other people of faith, we should be able to find solace, comfort and peace in our places of worship, rather than fear. We must collectively stand together against the terror that white supremacists continue to wreak on Jews.”

Congregation Bet Haverim plans to offer prayers at its Friday night worship service, on Nov. 2 at 7.30 p.m.

Congregation Ahavath Achim’s Rabbis Neil Sander and Laurence Rosenthal released their thoughts that read in part: “Our anger at what occurred today, at the alleged perpetrator and at the fact of a documented increase in expressions of anti-Semitism in our country, requires no explanation. We must acknowledge our anger and its validity.”

Rabbi Mark Zimmerman, at Congregation Beth Shalom, informed members that Dunwoody police “have assured us that they will be increasing patrols around the synagogue, especially during Shabbat services when the building is open to the public. And throughout the week we will remain vigilant in following all of our security protocols, restricting entry to the building, as well as the regular surveillance patrols that we currently have in place.”

Beth Shalom plans a Solidarity Shabbat on Saturday, Nov. 3.

JFGA board chairman Mark Silberman said that “security has already been heightened in the Atlanta community,” though the measures were not specified.

Cathal Lucy, JFGA’s Director of Community Wide Security, a 25-year veteran of the Secret Service, works with local Jewish institutions on their security plans. If you need assistance in securing your Jewish organization Cathal can be reached at CWS@jewishatlanta.org.

Dov Wilker, Southeast Regional Director of the American Jewish Committee, said that the AJC will host a Tuesday meeting at The Temple, bringing together not only Jewish religious and communal groups, but also leaders from other religions and ethnicities, “to show the importance of standing together.”

The Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta has established a website – jewishatlanta.org/unitedwestand – as a central location for information about various vigils being planned in Atlanta.

As the situation progresses, the AJT will report on further developments and community responses during discussions of security and safety for us all.

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For the full story go to: atlantajewishtimes.timesofisrael.com/Pittsburgh-terror-affects-Atlanta-personally and pick up the Nov. 2 print issue that will hit the streets this Wednesday, Oct. 30.

 

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