American Jewish groups react to Pittsburgh synagogue shooter’s sentence


 American Jewish organizations reacted to the news that Robert Bowers, the man who murdered 11 Jews at prayer in 2018, has been sentenced to death. Groups stressed in their comments that the memory of the victims should remain paramount. Many also expressed gratitude that the shooter’s devastating crime was treated with the gravity it deserved.

Below is a rundown of statements, in whole or in part, from Jewish organizations in response to Wednesday’s verdict:

American Jewish Committee: “As we collectively process the jury’s decision today, what should always be top of mind is the memory of the 11 people murdered in a synagogue while at prayer by a cold-blooded hater of Jews. Ultimately what is of most significance is not how the shooter will spend the end of his life, but the fact that the U.S. government pursued this case with vigor and demonstrated that such crimes will not be countenanced, excused or minimized.”

Ronald Lauder, World Jewish Congress: “Today’s decision represents a measure of justice for the slaughter of 11 Jewish worshippers on that fateful day in 2018 at the Tree of Life synagogue. Nothing can ever bring back the people killed in the attack, the deadliest act of antisemitism in the history of the United States. The jury’s decision is a stark reminder to remain vigilant about countering antisemitism, wherever it may hide. I call on American leaders to amplify their efforts to protect Jewish communities across the country so that such a tragedy never again takes place.”

Secure Community Network: “This sentence sends a message to violent extremists, terrorists and antisemites everywhere that the United States will not tolerate hate and violence against the Jewish people, nor any people of faith. Though nothing will replace those taken from us nor ever fully assuage the grief that continues, this sentence is another step on the path to justice… While this event may have stretched the will and spirit of the Jewish community, it never broke it – nor will any act of hate or violence.”

Squirrel Hill Stands Against Gun Violence: “The jury today issued its final verdict, ensuring that the perpetrator of the deadliest act of antisemitic violence in American history will never walk free. We thank the many participants in the judicial process, including the jurors, Judge Colville and his staff, the prosecutors and other Justice Department employees who worked long and hard to bring us to this day.  We are also grateful to the law enforcement officers who put themselves in harm’s way on October 27, 2018, and saved many lives. And we remember the 11 people murdered that day because they were Jews and because of the easy accessibility of guns in our state and nation.”

Alan Hausman, Tree of Life Congregation: “I am thankful for the thoughtful deliberation and hard work of all who got us to today’s decision. Nothing about this process has been easy. I will forever be grateful for all those who have helped our congregation these past four-plus years: the public safety department and law enforcement officers, our fellow Pittsburghers, and people of all faiths and backgrounds from across the country and around the world. While today’s decision is hard, it also marks the start of a new chapter at Tree of Life, and I find myself hopeful because of the love and support we still receive as we continue to heal and move forward.”

Rabbi Jeffrey Myers, Tree of Life Congregation: “Today’s decision and the pending sentences on the non-capital crimes mark the closing chapter of an emotional, months-long trial. In the years we have spent waiting for this trial to take place, many of us have been stuck in neutral. It was a challenge to move forward with the looming specter of a murder trial. Now that the trial is nearly over and the jury has recommended a death sentence, it is my hope that we can begin to heal and move forward. As we do, I have my faith, bolstered by the embrace and respect with which my community has been treated by our government and our fellow citizens. For this and the seriousness with which the jury took its duty, I remain forever grateful.”

Pittburgh shooting, Jewish groups