Simon Wiesenthal Center Issues Statement on Anniversary of Tree of Life Massacre

October 24, 2019

Ahead of the first anniversary of the devastating mass shooting that took 11 lives at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Rabbis Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper, the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s founder/dean and associate dean/director of global social action respectively, have issued the following statement:
“It has been one year since the horrific Pittsburgh shooting pierced the serenity of the Jewish Sabbath and shattered a community forever. A white supremacist murdered 11 Jews in cold blood while they were at prayer in Squirrel Hill’s Tree of Life synagogue. All Americans, including American Jews, have the right to expect our centers of worship to be safe havens where we can connect at once with our fellow faithful and the divine. It brings us great sadness that, after that terrible day, so many Jews no longer feel safe in these precious and sacred gathering places.
“In 2019, armed police officers have become part of the backdrop at synagogues and Jewish schools not only in the United States, but around the world. Meanwhile, social media platforms continue to serve as venues to mass market and galvanize communities of hate. Vulnerable youth, but also angry adults, are recruited into the ranks of hate groups or inspired to strike as lone wolf terrorists. Political discourse has become increasingly nasty and polarizing, while age-old stereotypes of Jews are spouted in hallowed halls of higher learning, in the corridors of Congress, on the benches of European parliaments, and in the editorial pages of mainstream media. The result has been a growing acceptance of and apathy towards anti-Semitism in democracies worldwide.   
“Things have gotten worse, not better, since Pittsburgh. We will continue to fight this rising tide, partnering with our allies in law enforcement, education, the clergy and government. But what is most needed is the involvement of good-hearted people in every city, town, church and school who recognize the manifestations of anti-Semitism, both obvious and subtle, and are willing to speak up and say: No, not here, not with our children, not in our community.”

For more information, please contact the Center's Communications Department, 310-553-9036, join the Center on Facebook,, or follow @simonwiesenthal for news updates sent direct to your Twitter feed.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the OAS, the Council of Europe and the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino).


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