A group of Pittsburgh Jews associated with the national social justice organization, Bend the Arc, announced today that Pres. Trump was unwelcome in the local Jewish community till he denounced white supremacy, the type of hate which fueled the murder spree of Robert Bowers. I offer a hearty mazel tov to them for their forthrightness in confronting the President.
CORRECTION (see below): Rose Mallinger was not a Holocaust survivor, as has been widely reported in the media. However, Judah Samet, another Tree of Life member, barely escaped with his life when he parked his car in front of the synagogue only minutes after the shooting began. Samet had survived Bergen-Belsen.
There are many cruel ironies of this bloodletting. Among the victims were Rose Mallinger, 97, who was a Holocaust survivor. She outlived Adolf Hitler, but not Robert Bowers or Donald Trump. Two disabled brothers were among the youngest victims. They liked to greet synagogue goers as they entered the building for Shabbat services. Most of victims were elderly because older folks tend to have more difficulty navigating their way from home to the shul. They either take buses, get a ride from friends, or have to walk. So they tend to arrive on the early side. Also, they like the social camaraderie of schmoozing with their fellow congregants before services. So they tend to arrive early.
That’s why Bowers cruelly mowed down the elderly and the infirm. In a further irony, he determined to murder Jews because he believed they were responsible for immigrants coming to this country to murder white people like himself. In reality, he murdered elderly Jews, some of whom came to this country themselves as immigrants seeking refuge from Hitler’s Germany. Thanks to America’s gracious welcome they were able to make new lives for themselves and have the families they were deprived of by Hitler. Bowers wiped all that out in a few minutes.
Finally, the most important event scheduled during Shabbat services yesterday at Tree of Life was a baby naming ceremony for a newborn boy. After the brit milah, parents and baby go to services on the following Shabbat for the baby-naming. There he receives the name which will accompany him the rest of his life; and is welcomed into the covenant of life. This beautiful event did not happen as it was supposed to yesterday.
We Jews are used to slaughter. It has followed us from nation to nation where we’ve sought refuge: ancient Israel, medieval Spain, Germany during the Crusades, Ukraine at the hands of Cossacks, Russian pogroms, and finally Pittsburgh for the worst mass murder of American Jews in our nation’s history.
Such an event would never have happened under any other American president than this one. He fueled this rage. He raised the specter of Jew-hatred from the primal ooze and brought it forth to sow destruction in our synagogues.
Also, let’s not fall prey to the Israelis and NRA folk who say the answer to Jew-hatred is guns and more guns. Guns will not make us safe. Taking guns out of the hands of the mentally ill and anyone who should not have them, is the answer. Just because our Congress is bought and paid for by the gun lobby, which sabotages sane gun regulation, does not mean we should turn away from this fundamental truth.
American Jews are being entirely too tempered in their statements. Sit shiva and mourn. But after that, it’s time to throw politeness to the winds and speak truths to power. Donald Trump is not just a racist who empowers anti-Semites, he is one himself. It doesn’t matter that his son-in-law is Jewish or his daughter converted. It doesn’t matter that Sheldon Adelson vouches for him or that Bibi Netanyahu loves him like a brother. What matters is what happens in the streets. The dead matter.
After this, any wealthy Jewish Republican who contributes a dime to Donald Trump should be run out of town on a rail. If they will not renounce him then we must renounce them. Jews don’t do business with those who incite the murder of Jews. If they do, then they’ve betrayed their fellow Jews.