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D.C. Jewish community calls for unity after Pittsburgh synagogue shooting

Local Jewish community calls for unity after Pittsburgh synagogue shooting. (Photo: Victoria Sanchez, ABC7)

Hundreds of people with different religious beliefs gathered in front of the White House Saturday evening for a candlelight vigil in honor of those who lost their lives in the synagogue shooting.

Eleven people were killed and six others injured after a man opened fire at the Tree of Life congregation in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh Saturday morning.

Services continued as normal at the Washington Hebrew Congregation, though the atmosphere was somber. Metropolitan Police officers stood watch at the Northwest temple and others in the District.

“I have ordered a police presence at synagogues in the District and we will be reaching out to faith leaders to offer our support and guidance,” a statement from Mayor Muriel Bowser said.

“In light of the tragic events unfolding in Pittsburgh this morning, MPD will be providing an increased presence at our synagogues in the city. Our Special Liaison Unit will be contacting religious leaders. There is no known credible threat to Washington, DC,” Police Chief Peter Newsham wrote in a tweet.

Washington Hebrew Congregation Senior Rabbi M. Bruce Lustig said he was in the middle of a bar mitzvah when he learned about the shooting.

“Acts like this are really acts against all houses of worship. The idea is to create fear when in times like this we need more than ever to be in houses of worship,” he said.

The Anti-Defamation League said the shooting in the worst violence against the American Jewish community the organization has seen.

“It’s unconscionable that this could happen in a place of worship in America today,” said Doron Ezickson, the ADL Washington regional director.

The Anti-Defamation League audits anti-Semitic acts and found that in 2017 incidents increased by 57 percent over the year before.

“We cannot continue to see this type of violence and division in our country. It’s not democratic. It’s un-American,” said Ezickson.

Rabbi Lustig believes the current social and political environment is fueling hate.

“It’s just not civil, it’s just not nice. And we should demand the exact same thing from all of our politicians, no matter what party,” he said.

“We can disagree politically, we can disagree vehemently but that does not mean that we treat each other in an inhuman way,” said Ezickson.


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